As I write the title of this blog, two songs came to my mind, “Celebrate, Jesus, Celebrate,” and “Celebration” from Kool and the Gang!

Today, Tuesday, July 7th, marks a huge day for me. Today, I celebrate 11 years of sobriety. Eleven years of no drinking, no smoking (of cigarettes or pot…is that even what it’s still called?); nothing. This time last week, I did not think I was going to make it to 11 years. I had to confess to my husband, my peers, my support group that I was struggling. That was tough, yet comforting, as I know many, many prayers were sent to heaven on my behalf last week. I can honestly say I have no idea how I got through. I went to bed with cravings of a glass of wine, I woke up in the middle of the night with those same cravings. My husband took the van, keys and money to work with him one day as he knew how horribly I was struggling. All I wanted was to be able to relax and have some peace. I actually wanted to die. No, I didn’t want to kill myself, but I just wanted to die. I wasn’t getting peace in any direction I was turning. Satan was working over time, and my fleshy self played right into it. I was to the point in believing that the only thing that would give me that “peace” was having that glass of wine I so, so wanted… was salivating over. Whew, just typing this makes me not only cringe from the closeness of it, but also still yearn for it. I haven’t experienced this in 11 years of sobriety. I’m not saying I haven’t had “tough times” in regards to dealing with it, but it never got to this point of desperation. I am having to make a choice, every day, some times moment by moment in my days, to not drink. I haven’t had to do that since day one of sobriety when I chose to quit.

So, why now? Good question. One thing keeps coming to my mind. When I first quit drinking, then eventually gave my heart and soul over to the Lord, and began serving in The Most Excellent Way, Eddie Echarri told me something, that for some reason I had forgotten, until recently. Eddie told me, “Stacey, things are goin’ good for choo (that’s ‘you’ for anybody that didn’t know Eddie Echarri) right now, get your gate up.” I didn’t know what he meant, so he elaborated. “When you start doing good, and you start giving Jesus glory, Satan gets mad. Be on guard, and be ready, ’cause he is gonna come at choo.”

It’s amazing how the Lord can use certain things to “trigger” memories. I was driving down Davis Hwy just the other day. Several years ago, across from West Florida Hospital, they put up an iron fence to mark off parking for its employees. Ya’ll, I’ve literally driven past that fence hundreds and thousands of times since it was put up; yet there is was. A vision (I’m a visual learner, the Lord knows this as He made me this way, so He gives me visuals to learn.) of what Eddie Echarri had been telling me all those years ago. When Satan sees me doing what is right, pursuing His (Jesus Christ) excellence, putting away former things, it chaps Satan’s back side, and he’s gonna come at me and my family with both barrels loaded. Ya’ll, if you have read my blog for any length of time, you know that Satan has been on us hard. We have had one obstacle thrown at us after another. I can’t imagine what He has in store for us….. I cannot imagine how we would have survived without Christ…..I just can’t imagine. I got kind of goose bumpy …. the song “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercy Me just came to mind….. whew.

So, today, to celebrate 11 years of sobriety, in honor and memory of my precious friend, Eddie Echarri, whom I miss more and more every day, I’m gettin’ my gate ready; I’m girding my myself with the “Armor of God” and am preparing for battle, now more than ever.

God Bless, and have a fabulous day!