Miracles and Tragedies

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Friends, I’m writing to tell you about a new  project with a sad backstory.

When I first got sober in 2007, by far the best part was the opportunity it gave me to share the good news of recovery with others—which led to my blog, Sober Boots. For more than three years, I wrote about topics I hoped would help addicts and those who love them on the spiritual path of recovery. I also wrote a memoir, Sober Mercies (Hachette 2012).

As many of you know, my oldest son Noah was, like me, an alcoholic. When at 26 he moved to Colorado Springs to get sober like Mom, it seemed nothing short of a miracle. For the next five years, we enjoyed being in recovery together and living in the same town. Noah was brilliant, funny, a gifted musician, and dearly loved by many.  Always a big fan of my writing, he generously gave me permission to write about him where our stories overlapped.

On October 31st, 2015, we lost Noah in a terrible tragedy. Through a combination of terrible choices—including going off his bipolar medshe suffered a manic episode so severe that he had a complete psychotic break. He walked out his door one morning and shot the first three people he saw. He died in the ensuing shootout with police.

I’m not ready to talk more about that heart-shattering story yet, but I wrote a single post a few months after happened, letting readers know. I was so grateful for the loving response; but I also realized I had made myself vulnerable to feedback that was hurtful. At that point, I turned the blog off or “private.”

Since then, I’ve received a constant flow of requests for permission to view the blog. Some were previous followers who wanted to reread a particular post. Others had read my memoir, Sober Mercies: How Love Caught Up With a Christian Drunk—and they wanted more. The question became: How do I free up the blog for new directions while still retaining the best of the recovery posts as a resource? That’s where the idea for a compilation was born. My talented friend Skylar Call painted the cover art. My sister Katherine spearheaded the project, working endless hours compiling and editing it (she knew I couldn’t bear to do it myself), and I’m so thankful to her for her hard work!

The book is a selection of the best posts from the Sober Boots blog over the course of three years, from 2012 to 2015. Some of them include Noah. Since his death I have struggled with my own sobriety. I am no one’s hero. But I hope the words I wrote during those years of happiness and hope can continue to help those on the difficult path of recovery.

Thank you for all the prayers and kind thoughts so many have sent my way during this dark time. Every word has mattered, and all that love is helping me to heal, I hope. Grief is long and at times seems unending. But God is greater than my grief. This I believe, and it has to be enough.

Best wishes,

Heather

69 thoughts on “Miracles and Tragedies”

  1. Oh Heather, I am so glad I stumbled on this page this morning. I’ve read Sober Mercies a few times and I’ve prayed for you and thought of you so often. I will continue to lift you up before the Lord and I look forward to one day reading what you will share once again. May God grant you peace and an overwhelming sense of His presence within you this day and every day. Thank you for reaching out. ❤️

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  2. I remember reading with a heart that dropped through the floor what happened to Noah. I’m so so sorry for your loss.
    I’m so glad to read at least a little of your story in this. You are here, sober and still going. What an absolute inspiration. Daily people tell me that they have encountered stuff in their lives that I cannot begin to imagine and they walk (or stumble – or crawl) through it without picking up a drink. It is stunningly inspirational to me.
    I saw an old friend last night. He had a breakdown last year and ended up in a locked ward for sometime. He came out and his wife couldn’t live with him in the state he was. She moved in with their daughter. Another friend in recovery who is a retire psychiatric nurse moved in with him for some months. He is sober, well and back on a path that has his wife back living with him. He never needed a drink. Inspirational.

    Thank you Heather and take care

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  3. Dear Heather, I am so grateful for the strength and grace you put out into the world; inspiring, brave and soothing. Your honesty and inner beauty shine forth from the rubble of life’s tragedies and unanswerable questions. I love you. R.

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  4. Thank you for sharing your vulnerability with us. Know that the God of your understanding holds you during this dark time. May you hold onto the Great Sunlight of the Spirit.

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  5. Hi Heather , i just  read this and  it make  me  look at my self and  what needs to be changed for  the  better.  You are very inspiring to many  and  to me. Thank you!!!!!!!!!! HELENA~RENE’ ~ WELLS THE  FINEST  LIBRA

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  6. I too have thought of you often! Your writings helped and encouraged my family in some dark places. Praying for strength for you and yours.

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  7. After praying hard yesterday about failed attempts to quit drinking, I asked God questions about willpower vs. faith in becoming sober and He led me to your book Sober Mercies. I started reading last night and couldn’t put it down. I have now finished it and have the answers I have needed for a long time. I have so much clarity where confusion once was and I am truly changed. Thank you for allowing Him to work through you to change lives. After reading your blog I am heartbroken about the tragedy you are facing. I cannot begin to fathom what you must be going through. I just felt a strong need to tell you thatu what you have done is incredible and you are a hero. I can assure you that your works are changing the lives of others, exactly as God has called for you to do and I thank you. I pray for your comfort and healing. I know that God will guide you out of this darkness to a new light that you have never seen before.

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  8. I am so relieved and happy to see that you are back, Heather. 😀 I have been “reading” you since Virtue magazine, and although we have never met I consider you a friend. I am praying for you and sending much love and hugs. God bless you richly always. You are such an inspiration, even as you were able to “drop your sword for just awhile”. God heal your heart and fill you with His joy. xoxo

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  9. Love and miss you. You have always been and will always be one of my favorite people on the planet. I’m so grateful our paths crossed. Those long talks over tea were such an encouragement to me. Continuing to pray for you and yours. You and Noah are in our thoughts so so often.
    Much love

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  10. God has his arms around you… seek his comfort… You are a gift to so many of us. Thank you for being so brave and So inspirational to so many. I pray you find peace after this horrible tragedy….

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  11. Thank you so much, Heather, for your story. My brother sent me your previous book which I found very enlightening and I have continued to remember you from time to time. I also read about your son and can’t imagine the journey you have had to walk since that tragedy took place. My heart goes out to you and I feel your pain. I am so thankful to be a child of God and know His tender care and compassion and His heart of deep love for each one of us. There is no where else to turn and to know we are loved that deeply. May you continue to know the reality of God’s daily presence with you in the day by day challenges you face. I know God uses your story for the blessing and encouragement of many others. God Bless you in a special way. Much love and gratitude, Esther

    ________________________________

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  12. I was so thankful to receive this e- mail! Heather , you and your family have been in my prayers. Your honesty encouraged me and I have been heartbroken for your loss. I stand with you and am grateful to hear from you again.

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  13. Heather, I was so excited to get this in my email this morning. I always enjoyed reading your honest post and your book back when I was dating an alcoholic. They were all very helpful in helping me understand more about addiction. I was so sorry to read about your son. I know the pain of loosing a child although under different circumstances. Although I am not a writer… I am attaching what I wrote about loosing Jennifer, in hopes that you can draw some encouragement from it. Feel free to share it with anyone. Please excuse grammar… as we like to say down south, “My Mississippi is showing”.

    May the Lord continue to give you strength and grace.

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  14. Dear Heather,
    Your blog was a literal lifesaver for me as I faced my drunkenness and started my sobriety. I owe my life to you and others like you, as well as to God’s mercies. My thanks aren’t enough, but I suppose they will have to do – my thanks, and very best wishes and prayers for you. Keeping you in love!

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  15. Dear Heather, I’m so glad to see you are back. Your blog “Sober boots” helped me when I was struggling with my son’s addiction. You gave me so much hope. My thoughts and prayers are with you! xxxxx P.S. I was inspired to start my own blog!

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  16. Dearest sister-in-love!
    How very wonderful to see your blog this morning. We are thrilled. We are so very proud of you. We walk this journey with you from afar, sending our love and hugs. And we’re asking Father to abundantly bless. Grace upon grace!

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  17. So nice to see you, Heather. I have missed your posts and it made my night to see you in my inbox. I have worried about you and your family and wondered how you were. I can’t imagine the devastation you have experienced and still are, I’m sure. I have struggled with my spirituality lately, but one thing I have learned. Sometimes God has to shatter us to put us back together. I’m sure He understands that Noah was ill and not responsible and he is now whole in the presence of Him. God Bless.

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  18. I’m so glad you are back. I have grieved and wondered how in the world you were after the heartbreaking news. You were the best mom you could be and mental illnesses are out of our control. God bless and keep you!

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  19. I have thought of you so many times over the last couple of years. I have no words that could possibly bring healing or relief to your aching heart …. I simply pray for peace to cover your heart and mind. Please know and believe that you are so dearly loved right now … just as you are.

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  20. Heather;
    My heart and prayers are with you. My daughter Kathie was a very good friend of Noah’s this
    Has been very hard on her. We also have a bi-polar son in my family and one in prison so I believe Zi do know to some degree what you live through. You are a fantastic inspiration to those of us who don’t have perfect children. I will continue to pray for you and your family!

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  21. Brave soul. I am sending much love to you and asking God to wrap his loving arms around you. You are my hero for sure!

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  22. Your timing is amazing… I was thinking about you yesterday! Hugs to you sweet mom. I’ve missed hearing from you…. You helped me, a mom whose son struggled with ​addiction for years and hid it so well. He found recovery in 2008 but we realize it’s a forever journey. Your previous posts are a godsend to many… I told so many others about you. I pray you feel God’s mighty arms wrapped around you holding you tight and feel His ever present comfort in times of need.

    Michelle Johnson

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  23. Dear Heather– I was just thinking of you and your blog a few days ago, and now here you are! I look forward to getting your book and reading many of the posts I never got to before. I will also get copies to use at the recovery center where I work- people need your honesty and insights. I am so sorry about men and women who would attack you over your loss, I cannot imagine…
    Continue to hang onto Jesus.

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  24. I am so glad to see you Heather! I will definitely put your book on my summer reading list. Much love to you! (if you want to read my book “ordinary is extraordinary” I would glad send you a copy. xoxo

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  25. I read Sober Mercies and loved it. I look forward to reading your new project. I feel the way you write about your experiences is raw and real; it inspires hope even when things are at their worst. My son had a near fatal car accident just over a year ago. I thank God every day for giving us more time with him. My heart breaks for you as I cannot imagine how much your heart hurts. Lots of love and prayers ❤

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  26. Heather,

    My heart goes out to you and I was so excited to see your email in my inbox. You are wrong about one thing above. You are a courageous hero of many. I say this because you are authentic. You have such faith that you have always been able to acknowledge the truth about you. God has given you the faith to have that courage to say and speak truth. I have read your posts to many others because they struck such a chord of truth in my heart.
    I pray for you that the suffering that you have gone though will add to the suffering that our Christ endured on the cross and to your connection with God. Paul talks about suffering in that manner.

    So at the end of the day, I love your writing and your courage. You have been in my prayers for a long time. Thanks for reaching out to us who found the truth in your words, a truth that connects us to God.

    Thank you so much,

    Scott Boyd

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  27. So glad to see your email. Only a mom that has had heartbreak with her children could imagine the terrible pain you have been experiencing . There has been many times that I have doubted God and where he could be in this terrible tragedy. Keep writing and know how much you have helped others

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  28. Heather,
    I’m so sorry that you received ugly responses from ugly people. They obviously do not understand
    mental illness even though we’ve come a long way in trying to educate the public. There is still a strong stigma that exists regarding the disease of addiction and mental illness.
    Please remember that you are loved and revered by the majority of your readers. In my darkest moments I have to believe that God still has a plan for me or I wouldn’t be here.
    Love,
    Darlene

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Sweet, Heather. ❤ My heart breaks for you. I wish I could hug you right now. Thank you for this post. The lyric from Hamilton came to mind just now and I sing it to myself daily, "Just stay alive, that would be enough." You don't need to be a hero or author or "strong" or "brave". You don't owe anything. Just stay alive. That is enough… even though I know that can feel like that is still asking too much.
    Please take care of yourself. Be good to yourself. ❤
    You could never know just how much your raw honesty has helped me. I'm alive because of it.
    Thank you for the gift of a "Sober Boots". I have missed you and your blog, and I ordered the book as soon as I read this.
    "Just do the next right thing. One thing at a time. That'll take you all the way home."

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  30. Dear Heather,
    Your book was the first ever alcoholic/recovery story I read.. Well before I could surrender and accept my alcoholism.. (today I’m 174 days sans free booze). Also, I am a mother like you and am holding your hand in spirit tightly.. You are a brave soul and I wish I had the words to comfort you after this tragedy.. I feel sorrow and empathy and love you from afar…
    thank you for putting yourself out there in the sober cyberspace world..
    Xo

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  31. Your blog was so comforting after my grandson, James, killed himself in 2011. I have been sober since 2004. I read Sober Mercies and look forward to more of your writings. I am so sorry for your loss.

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  32. thanks for the update, Life is an odd thing, I used to have a lot of answers but now lots of questions and a few answers. Your comment ” grief is long and at times seems unending. But God is greater than my grief .” Which I believe too, you have such a way of writing that grabs me. Well sending love from someone in Minnesota you haven’t actually met , still have you in my prayers.

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  33. So so so glad to see you show up in my email! You come to my mind often and honestly I need to remember to pray for you instead of simply wondering how you are doing. Thank you for your willingness to put your courageous words together for us to read again and to share with others. I cannot even begin to imagine your journey; I hope you know how very much you are loved.

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  34. I was in your neck of the world just last weekend and thought of you. I’m thrilled to see you in the blogosphere and look forward to the possibility of seeing you more.

    You are loved and supported by more people than you realize.

    I regularly pray for you and the process.

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  35. Praying for you seems so trite. I hope you can feel what we are all trying to say,,,because there are no real words. Hang on.

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  36. I have missed you…your words, your wisdom, your experience. I am saddened buy your loss and pray you can both grieve hard and celebrate fully the life and impact of Noah. Thank you for surrendering this part of your journey to us and allowing us to be a part of it. I look forward to “Walking” with you and Jesus through Sober Boots, the book. Thank you for your courage. Bless you for your Mission. Jesus shines brightly through you, my friend. You and your family are in my prayers.

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  37. I am also so glad to hear from you! I’ve been praying for you and your family for strength and healing. Your book Sober Mercies, has blessed me so much and I love your blog. Look forward to hearing from you again. God bless you, Heather!

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Thank you, Heather. For your generosity to share your posts and your courage to send this email. Both are such expressions of love. I (and many others I’m sure) have missed you and your writing! –Robert

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  39. What a surprise to find you in today’s mail! It was (and is!) such a tragic story and I hope you’ll find strength through God, those close to you, and your readers to find happiness. You don’t need to be a hero. Sharing your struggles has helped many through dark days. Thank you and God Bless! Jeni

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  40. Heather, you’ve been a huge blessing to me. God bless you and strengthen you day by day as He heals you and walks you through this horrendous loss. Praying you feel His strong but gentle loving hand on yours all the way. Much love, Sally.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I can’t imagine what heartbreak you have experienced as a mother. Praying for healing for you and sending lots of love and good thoughts your way.

    Liked by 1 person

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