40 Years In…My Purpose & Pain

There is so much I could say, in the blank space, with cursor blinking, waiting to be filled. I’ve sat here many times before today, staring, with thoughts racing, too much to begin.img_5872I was honestly surprised…and not…to see the tab at the top of this page stating in all caps that I have 87 Drafts. Eighty-Seven works in progress. How silly. Knowing that each time I release my truth from the inside out, it unlocks a new aspect of freedom that I didn’t know was there. And yet, if I think about it too long, I won’t hit “Publish” on this one either.

jcp-2016-croppedSo…For today, let’s dive in before I convince myself to “Draft” it.

In the weeks leading up to my 40th birthday, I’ve thought a lot, maybe too much, about the purpose and pain through my first 40 years on this earth. While I genuinely hope this helps someone reading, it is as much for my own benefit as for anyone else’s.

My journey has not been one of ease, though it has been better than many, and more privileged than most.

The List…jcp-2016-5869

  1. Trust can take years to build and moments to destroy.
  2. Happiness can be bought (temporarily) and then lost, while true joy is internal and untouchable by outside forces.
  3. Grace is one of the most priceless and underserved gifts. Though freely given, we must receive and embrace it before it can manifest in our lives.
  4. Intuition is absolutely real and divinely instilled.
  5. The ability to forgive is key to authentic beautyNothing will age you faster than resentment.
  6. A steller hairstylist is a must. Once you find said stylist, tip well.
  7. Anger rots your inner being before ever showing up at surface level.
  8. Fear only leads to greater fear.
  9. Prayer works.
  10. When searching for an answer, love almost always fills the gap.
  11. It’s about “who” not “what” you know. (This applies to everything.)
  12. Baby wipes are essential for life. They remove crayon from a painted surface, that unidentified sticky residue just beneath a child’s car seat that’s been there for God only knows how long, mascara, lip stain, mud on wedges…etc., etc.
  13. Smiling more will inevitably lift one’s own spirit while providing warmth to the stranger passing by.
  14. It’s true, you cannot out-exercise your fork.
  15. We never see our true-self clearer, nor exert our need for a Savior more, than during times of trial.
  16. Failure is not optional, it’s necessary.
  17. Lessons will either shape you or break you.
  18. People do not control your destiny.
  19. God is not mad at you.
  20. Sunscreen actually is important.
  21. If you have one true friend you can trust with your weirdness, you are richly blessed.
  22. There is a deep human longing in us all to be fully known and accepted anyway.
  23. Death is not the end. It’s the transition.
  24. Grief is unpredictable.
  25. No matter the color of our skin, just below that thin layer, we all look the same.
  26. Generosity is key to contentment.
  27. Everything (really is) going to be okay (eventually).
  28. We don’t have to share the same DNA to be family.
  29. Miracles still happen.
  30. Everything we say and do begin with a thought.
  31. Being an adult can be really hard.
  32. We can decide, at any given moment, to change direction.
  33. There is no excuse to be unkind (to anyone) (ever).
  34. Gratitude changes things.
  35. We remember moments.
  36. God created each one of us with great intention and purpose.
  37. The most sacred space of witness is during birth and death.
  38. If we could truly grasp our worth, nothing would have the ability to intimidate or have a stronghold in our lives.
  39. Don’t put earthly limits on a heavenly God.
  40. Time goes by so quickly.

1. We don’t have to be afraid.
2. Everyone is important to someone.
3. Labels were never meant for people.
4. Sex doesn’t have to be a dirty word.
5. Right and wrong is relative.

So there ya go. With hundreds more to be added at another time. As I live out this first year in my 4th decade of life, what would you add?



13 Reasons Why I Don’t Look Like An Alcoholic

JoyOn October 19th, 2015, by the grace of God, I welcomed in 13 years of freedom from the dependence on that which once enslaved me, alcohol.

When given the opportunity to share my story I always hear the same statement from at least one listener with a confused look on their face, “…But…you don’t look like an alcoholic.”
My response remains the same, “What does an alcoholic look like?”

Knowing full well that I have my own mental image of what an alcoholic looks like and it’s motivation for me to never go back to the life I once knew.

Her hair is matted and her clothes unkempt.
There are deep creases in her face from years of neglect.
She wears her wounds, making no attempt to hide them.
All forms of dignity have been stripped away.
She appears to be around 60 years old when in reality she’s 42.
She looks…well…tired. And she is.

Her children, if any, have long since given up on her and moved on with their lives.
The family she once knew has disowned her.
The church has overlooked her.
Society has pitied her.
Friends have deserted her. (They had no choice really. She stopped trying years ago.)
She’s an inconvenience, with bad teeth, no concern for personal hygiene, flammable breath, and a reputation that precedes her.

People say things without regard for her humanity, like, “Why haven’t her foolish ways killed her yet? She’d be better off dead and so would everyone else.”
Or, “She probably drinks mouthwash or rubbing alcohol. What a waste of space.”

Is my description harsh?
Have you ever seen an alcoholic in the grips of their disease?
To say it’s ugly is an understatement.

Throughout these years of recovery, I have visited treatment centers, held the shaking hands of the one in detox, claimed my seat in the rooms of A.A., accompanied a scared mother to a court hearing, listened to teary family members nightmares of living with an active alcoholic, and attended too many funerals for the seemingly hopeless one who never saw their 30th birthday.
I have seen what my future could look like if I allow my disease to dictate the direction of my life. Quite frankly, it scares the hell out of me. I hope it continues to scare me enough that I never pick up that first drink. That’s where the stronghold begins. The very first drink.

It’s a bummer. I don’t want to be an alcoholic. I didn’t grow from a little girl to a young adult dreaming of one day being a blackout drinker. I never aspired to be dependent on alcohol.

Not once did my parents say to me, “Now Joy, strive to be the best alcoholic you can be.” But I definitely gave it my all for several years. 

The reason I don’t look like your stereotypical alcoholic is because;
1.) I’m not homeless
2.) I’m a wife, mother, and productive member of society, and most days I’m pretty dang good at it.
3.) I have all my teeth (some natural ones and some designed by a dental artist).
4.) I’m obsessive about hygiene.
5.) My family is still speaking to me. Some of them actually like me.
6.) I have incredible friends who know me and aren’t embarrassed to be seen with me in public.
7.) I love and care for my children.
8.) My children love me, except when I’m driving them crazy.
9.) I don’t willingly participate in self-destructive behavior.
10.) I pay my bills…on time.
11.) I am of service to others and I love it! It’s one of my favorite things to do.
12.) I’m not a liar.
13.) I have a relationship with my Creator that everything else in my life centers around.

Most of the things listed above were not true of me 13 years ago. It has been a journey of faith with unpredictable twists and turns. Trust, especially in close personal relationships, has been earned and restored over time. I know and embrace the meaning of “Amazing Grace.”

We all have something in our lives that wants to destroy us. Mine happens to be alcohol. Maybe yours is food or sex, compulsive shopping or depression? No matter what it is, you know that the moment you become complacent in this particular area, you’re in trouble. There is a solution.

Do you know what the best defense against complacency is?
I call it my complacency repellant?

I am more aware (than ever), going into this 13th year that I better be thanking God in the first few moments my eyes open and my lungs draw a sober breath. Before my feet hit the floor, praise must already be on my lips. It will be the first thing on my tongue in the morning and the last thing I taste at night.

Here’s the big takeaway… Beginning the first few moments of your day with a grateful heart has the potential to change everything. Guaranteed. If it works for me, it can work for anyone, anywhere, no matter what.

Do you believe that?

Need a place of refuge? Visit my friends over at People of the Second Chance. Get connected. Whether you struggle with addiction or you love someone who does, you don’t ever have to be alone again.

Think you have a problem with alcohol? AA is a group of individuals from all walks of life, who share the same ism. It’s a program to which I owe my life. Learn more in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous 

To The One Looking For A Second Chance…

JCP-A piece of earth drenched in the splendor of HeavenMaybe you don’t even realize that’s what you’re looking for?
Maybe you’re searching for a way out of your current circumstances?
Maybe you’re longing for someone to look at you, truly seeing you for the first time, and say, “I know. I’ve been there. I’ve walked in those same shoes and I made the single choice to step off the crazy train.”?

Maybe you think you’re beyond a second chance?  Sweet friend, no one, created in the image of God, (and that’s all of us), is ever beyond a second chance. No one. You are worth saving.

There is life to be lived.
There is beauty to be had.
There is light to be shared.

However, it will not work in isolation.

~ To read the rest of this post, please join me with the community of “People of The Second Chance” by CLICKING HERE

The Shame Game

“Y’all, the holidays are rapidly approaching. Are you ready for this…there are 9 more Saturdays until Christmas. We are being plunged into that time of year when patience is low, demands are high and sleep doesn’t fit on our to-do list.

There’s a reason why multiple case studies show that addiction is the highest during the holiday season. It’s the most difficult time to stay sober. I think in part because we’re surrounded by people who trigger all kinds of emotions. It’s also a time when everything around us says we should be feeling a certain way. For those of us who have always bucked up against conformity, we don’t like for people or things to tell us how to feel.

Yesterday, October 19th, by the grace of God, I reached my 12th year of sobriety. I am now a productive member of society (most days). The road was long and filled with twists, turns and dead ends. There were a lot of tears and pleading with my Higher Power. There was uncertainty among the rubble of my indiscretion. There were times when I felt hopeless.

And then something changed. Have you noticed how everything starts with a decision?”

Join me to read the rest of this post at The Shame Game continued…
Love filled Hands

“To know him is to love him”

The title of this post is taken from Caden Beggan’s community facebook page. Unlike I, you have probably been following his story. I just read about Caden today. It is always gut wrenching to read of a child and family enduring something like this, but what caught my eye was his name. Caden Riley Beggan. His first and middle name being the names and exact spelling of each of my sons. He is 6 years old, just as my Riley is.

This is a lengthy post. I have copied excerpts from posts written by his father on his community page. I am astounded by the faith of this man. The purpose of this precious ones struggle falls under one of those things that we spoke about several days ago that I just don’t understand and wouldn’t be able to change even if I did.

I am forever changed after reading this family’s journey.

November 9
“Dear friends,

Friday. Some 17 days after contracting a highly virulent infection (meningococcal septicaemia), Caden is alive.

Its malignancy, its utter loathing and disrespect for life knows no bounds. It is a mephitic organism whose stench will forever pervade my future; a poisonous and offensive bug whose sole purpose, it’s very reason for existing, seems to have been for the ruin of my son.

But, Caden . . . my champion, my hero, that tough little warrior fights on with the heart of a lion and continues to defy the odds. *His* existence will forever be a credit to him, a badge of honour, a praise to his Father in Heaven.

Let the Angels sing, Caden is alive!
Dance on your tears, Caden is alive!

I have not really seen the sun much these past two weeks, but a friend persuaded me to take a walk yesterday, and perhaps even consider a haircut (I’m assured that one was long overdue). So I did, and I did. A very kind hairdresser listened while I shared a little heartache and peppered it with a little hope. I even stopped by a clothes shop on the way back to the hospital and purchased something warm for the winter.

Daylight. Haircut. Shopping. Caden.

The streets were crowded, people everywhere busying themselves with their daily concerns, and then there was Caden. People talking, and Caden. People walking, and Caden. In every phone conversation as people raced to their destination, Caden. In every shop window, in every Christmas decoration, Caden. Then, the sun, in the last few minutes before retiring for the evening; so conspicuously absent from the dark shadows of the last 17 days, opened my eyes.

Caden was still alive; is still alive and lying in a hospital bed some five hundred yards from where I was standing. Right there, in that bustling sidewalk, I lifted my voice to the heavens, and declared that day a good day. How can I mourn the loss of a son who is still very much alive?…

I pray and I hope as one walking on thin ice, afraid to move this way or that for fear of plunging into a black abyss of despair. Last night, I fell asleep on my knees. I had few, if any words, but I held on to every ounce of faith I had and this morning I came to Caden’s bedside with a steely determination. My son lives. My son wants to live, of that there’s no doubt, and for as long as I am his father, I will fight with him and for him using everything I can. I cannot *make* him better, but I can pray. I cannot fix him, but I can share his remarkable story.

…I have begun work on a storybook that we hope will help Caden understand what has happened to him while he’s “been asleep.” It began with a dream that his Mum had. In the story, our intrepid hero (Caden) has to battle a very vicious and wicked monster. In the end, Caden defeats his foe, but with a heavy price. He then spends some time being transformed into a superhero who in turn helps others to fight their demons.


Caden’s Dad — with Angela Beggan and Rachel Catherine Pattison in Linthouse.”

November 10
Day 18.
“Caden is alive.

…More upsetting was having to break the news of Caden’s hand to his elder brother, Declan. Declan is strong though, and through tears, he spent time with his brother, talking to him and asking many questions about Caden’s future. Even Ethan was excited to we Caden today. “I want to get closer daddy,” he insisted. I am greatly encouraged by this, since I really believe healing is beginning in their hearts also.

Declan’s grief was a stark reminder of the circumstances in which we find ourselves. My heart once again echoed his sorrow, “It is NOT fair!”

In truth, it is nothing short of an atrocity for which no one will be held accountable. There will be no court of arbitration, no sentence passed, or day of recompense. A merciless pestilence has perpetrated its appalling crime and I am condemned to watch my son’s slow demise as piece by piece he is stripped of his dignity, and I feel powerless to affect the final outcome.

Where is the outcry? Where are the mourners? Why aren’t you wearing black when you show up with your platitudes? Let the laughter cease and the wailing commence, for my precious Caden lies bruised and battered, slain in effect; cut down and trampled underfoot.

My heart bleeds, “It is not fair!”

And yet . . . There is so much suffering in the world, suffering that until recently, has been kept at bay, and has kindly observed a safe distance from my front door. Everyday, on the way to see Caden, I pass numerous sick children whose parents’ faces are painted with desperate anguish; desperate to have their pleas heard by some Higher Power capable of doing what they wish they could do for their own child. All around us, children are dying. So with all this suffering, can I really yell, “Foul!”? Who am I that I should be exempt from these miseries? Who am I that I should be spared this horror? Who am I to question why it did not happen to a nameless other?

I am persuaded that no matter how horrific my affliction, there will always be someone worse off than I. Can I really compare my personal grief to that of another? Isn’t their suffering just as valid as my own? Even if, unlike my Caden, their offspring still looks like their child. Even with a valid claim to pain, such as the agony I feel right now, can any of us ever truly understand what it is like to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes? The cry, “Unfair!” may very well itself be unfair.

However, I have observed something else alongside the suffering. In the midst of the worst, the very best has come to light. From all over the world, near and far, angels of mercy bear witness to grace and share their compassion. They come with love and with gifts, with consolation and comfort. And the grace that they attest to falls upon my brow to soothe my aching. What started as a trickle is becoming a flood, a wave of mercy bringing its relief.

In the shade of my Father’s covering, I will rest a short while and gather my strength. I will let him tell me of his great love. Let him convince me that he has not abandoned me. Let him show his loving-kindness greater than any other. Let it be so. Let it be so.”

Excerpt taken from post on November 11
“Another Sunday. Another day. Another hour. Another minute.

Every day an anniversary; a landmark celebration of Caden’s life, of Caden’s struggle, of Caden’s victories. Every day a memorial; a tearful reminder of the life Caden once had, of Caden’s losses. Every day is a thousand years. Every day is a fleeting instant. Every day an angry shout. Every day a tender whisper. Every day a mournful procession. Every day an adrenaline shot. Every day a troubadour’s song. Every day a dumbstruck tongue. Every day an isolation. Every day a crowd of comforters. Every day alone, but never alone.

Always whimpering, always smiling. Always down, always up. Cursing and blessing. Hating and loving. Agonising and hoping. Lying and promising. Fearing and trusting.

I crave the crags in the caves where the light does not disturb my lament or the saltwater waves irritate my wounds. I long for the mirth of pastoral country; simple and serene and seeded with brighter tomorrows. I am one day this, and one day that, but I am always these: Caden’s dad and my Father’s son.

I am not here to talk about me though I am deeply grateful for this space, for this community of compassion, where weary pilgrims, such as I, may share their story. I am here to talk to you about my dear six-year old son, Caden Riley Beggan.

He is my waking, my morning; my sleeping, my yawning. His smile shifts even the darkest clouds. His rantings and ramblings, his playing and his mischief are staple foods in my daily diet, and each aspect of his beautiful self is as nourishing as the next. I have placed, at times, such hopes in him; dreamt of futures and possibilities that every father would do for their own child. I suppose the truth is I see so much of myself in Caden. I have talked to God a thousand times in terms of my past, wishing my son(s) would repeat none of my mistakes, and do everything I wished that I could have, that I should have.

I’d think nothing of spending hours watching him as he etches with his pencil his fantastical worlds – a resplendent imagination. In spite of the fact that most of Christmas Days or Birthdays consisted of co-building Lego kits (though he needed no help), I wouldn’t trade one father-son play-date for any kind of treasure you’d care to mention.

As I sit and watch his fragile body, some foot and a half shorter than it should be, dressed in black scars and plastic, I still marvel at the beauty of this exceptional piece of craftsmanship. Perhaps, God’s finest moment.

It is as tragic as the rip of a saw through the Mona Lisa. No! Even more so, but I’m still compelled to laud his life; to lionise my son; to glorify my Father in my admiration of Caden’s true beauty.

The true beauty of the Mona Lisa is not in the painting itself, but in the mind of the one who created it. The true value of such a priceless work of art lies not in the single view of any critic, but the admiration of the many. And there is much to admire about my son, not least of all his courage.”

Excerpt taken from a post on November 18
“…We are not who we were, as Caden himself is not who he was. We are the first words in a new chapter, and writer’s block seeks to rob us of our imagination for the future. We are at the edge of an abyss, blindly groping our way around for a footbridge. We will not fall victim to despair. We will give no quarter to the sorrow that would inhabit our lives. We grieve, but with hope, and for many tomorrows, as many as God sees fit to grant us.

You may pity my misfortune and together we will mourn our losses, but if you cry with me, then you must also laugh with me on that glorious day when together we pen the words, “Caden is awake!”

November 20, 2012

“Dear friends,

Caden Riley Beggan
Born 29th September, 2006
Died 20th November, 2012
. . . in Mummy and Daddy’s arms.

Thank you for all your support.

Caden is alive forevermore . . .”

If you would like to send cards to the family, please feel free to send to the family home.
David and Angela
1 Wishaw Low Road


The man I love lays down next to me. He reaches over, lightly caressing the top of my bare shoulder with his strong hand before sleep sets in. Nothing is said. Words are not needed. His arm slips down beside mine as his breathing changes to deep and rhythmic.

I turn to see the outline of his face in the darkness and I whisper, “Thank you God for this man.” His mind brilliant. His body strong. His passion intense and his love complete. Leaving my heart full and desires lacking nothing.

I take his hand and lace the sleepy fingers between mine to feel the energy pulsating through. Is this a dream? This life that I have… is it real? I have been asking myself that same question for the last 10 years. Usually at night when the only sounds are those heard when everything else is quiet.

I turn onto my side and close my eyes soaking in my reality. Knowing how completely undeserving I am of this man and the security he brings. Not underestimating the chemistry that we share.

Pressing my eyelids tight, expecting tears to come, they never do. I squeeze his fingers between mine as he sleeps, realizing that I am growing in the understanding of unconditional love. I am accepting the imperfection of self while giving in to the happily ever after that exists even for a girl like me. At least here. Now. In this place. In this moment of beautiful calm.

Be and be better, for they existed

“…And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always irregularly.
Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored,
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be.
Be and be
For they existed.”

~ Maya Angelou ~