just another summertime thought


Tis the season. Yes, corn on the cob is a mandatory food for the upcoming holiday cookouts on Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, and any summertime occasion. I will always remember a boyhood festivity in midsummer, the peak of sweet corn season, when the nearby cow pasture was cleared of debris, a concrete block fire pit was set up and on a Saturday afternoon carloads of neighbors, friends and family began arriving. They parked in the cow pasture and congregated in clusters chatting about crops, new babies, and miscellaneous gossip. Bushels of freshly picked corn, unshucked, were roasting under wet burlap bags on the blazing wood fire. I don’t remember what was being celebrated, but it was a glorious Saturday afternoon and evening. Many bushels of delicious corn were consumed. My aunt and I always had a competition going on. Her capacity was a dozen ears, mine was not…

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Good-bye, Max

Our cat, Max, returned to his creator this morning. I held him in my arms for the last few hours of his life and watched him take his last breath. I found the following prayer online as I searched for comfort.

“O God, as we have taken care of Max in life, we ask that you watch over him in death. You entrusted Max to our care; now, we give him back to you. May he find a happy new home in Your loving embrace. As we remember Max , may we love each other more dearly.”

Lord, I am tore up over this; Max was my companion for 17 years. He had learned to enjoy a bath in the tub. I bathed his body for the final time this morning since he had given up grooming himself. He enjoyed riding aside me in my truck even when it was a trip to his doctor. I gave his body a final ride in my truck to the vet’s office for cremation.

His last response to me was at 7:00 AM while I held him wrapped in a towel. The towel was to keep him warm and catch his urine; he had become incontinent several months ago. He was purring when he turned to face me, gazed at me with his big, beautiful yellow eyes and let lose with a series of yowls. He then stretched his legs and neck as if letting go of his spirit, endured the death rattle, and…..Max went home.

He grew up as a trucker cat lazing on the semi’s dash on adventures across the country, east to west and north to south. He learned to accept walking on a leash at truck stops and parks. Many drivers looked at us with a smile, “Cats just don’t do that,” they would comment. At a military installation where we frequently loaded and unloaded, the guard checking IDs and credentials remembered those two drivers with two cats on board…..they did not need IDs or paperwork.

Lord, I pray that I have been a worthy steward of your creature. I’m not sure if there will be another cat to fill the void, but if so, I pray that I have learned from Max how to be a good parent. After all, they are not pets; they are family.

Fence sitting

Preaching to the choir. Writing about and trying to pump up sobriety and sober living is like preaching to a choir, most of whom are sleeping or thinking about last night’s fight with the spouse. I’m not a preacher, never have been, never wanted to be. I know in definite terms what sobriety means to me and will always listen or talk to another suffering alcoholic about recovery. But, friends, I’m tired of wasting my energy on folks who don’t truly want the blessings of sober living. Either you want it or you don’t. Get off the fence. Same goes for faith in a Higher Power whatever name we determine to apply to that Higher Power. Either you believe with heart and soul or you don’t. The choice is yours.

Or is it? I’ve shared my story numerous times. When I am honest, I can’t remember a single time when I decided to ‘get sober’. I remember many times when life became too much of a burden, when I hated who I was, when I wanted to die. I remember praying to something out there in the ozone for relief and then popping the top of another can of beer. Bottom line is that Larry Brown did not decide to get sober on a certain date in 1981. I did not choose sobriety.

Same with faith in a God. I made a career out of praying to some entity which was more often than not a relic from my childhood. When days were good, I said God had blessed my life. When days went badly, I blamed a vengeful, judgmental old bearded man sitting on his heavenly throne punishing me for being human. Again there is not a date years ago when Larry Brown dropped to his knees and immediately became a child of God. I still have a hard time connecting with those who say they were ‘saved’ on a specific date years ago. Certainly I can’t deny what they profess, but that’s not how it worked for me. After years of sobriety and a dedicated effort to know my Higher Power, I finally realized the saving grace that so many had talked about. I did not choose God. I was chosen to be used.

With time and fellowship with other sober men and women, faith and sobriety ‘miraculously’ happened. In reviewing my life, I know that I don’t hate myself, want to kill myself or, miracle of all miracles, open another can of beer. I love sobriety and believe that the God, whom I now serve, is a much better manager of me than I ever was or could hope to be.

And that’s where it’s at. Either you want it or you don’t. Get off the fence and put in the footwork.

(Dedicated to all of you who still want it both ways.)

did you miss me?

I sure as heck missed all of you in my absence from the blogging forum. Who knew writing about sobriety and sober living could be such an insightful, uplifting endeavor? I look forward to hitting the keys on a regular basis and sharing God’s goodness and grace as given to a misfit, loser and runaway by a magnanimous Father. My story is found in Luke 15 of the New Testament. Check it out.

Meanwhile, ARE YOU SOBER TODAY? Give yourself and your Higher Power a hand. I celebrated 42 years last month and to God goes the glory and to a bunch of good people along the way goes the thanks.


My sites have been frozen for nearly a year….no explanation as to why this happened. As bloggers with WP may know, wordpress or its parent company, laserfocusnetwork, do not provide a phone number to actually speak to a “happiness engineer”….customer service seems to be run by an unhappy robot. Control of my sites miraculously reappeared today. I’ll say no more lest I piss off the robot.

Can we still Be Kind

My friend, Carol in Sunbury, Pennsylvania, mentioned an occurrence of signs popping up on the streets of her town which simply urge “BE KIND”.

My friend, Jim, lamented that people, i.e., the world, are so UNKIND. Indeed, Jim’s assessment is backed by news headlines and social/political commentary on the media outlets.

Another friend confided in me a few months ago that she and her boyfriend are taking their relationship to the next level. (Hope they are taking an elevator. Folks our age can’t be wasting time). She also commented that she will always remember me as a gentle, KIND man. Coward’s way of saying, “You are no longer in contention for my man of the year award.”

Gentle?? I have no choice. I am old and fragile; I have to be gentle.

Kind? That’s a matter of definition and opinion. We should talk about it, shouldn’t we?

Nothing defines ‘kind’ better than a passage from 1 Corinthians, chapter 13. I’m sure you know it well.

Verses 4-8 tell us that kindness is love:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Considering the events in Buffalo and Uvalde, is it time to cast aside love and kindness, shut off our media devices to keep the images of terror and hatred outside our realm of reality hoping to protect ourselves from the unimaginable pain and horror? Should we hide away behind closed doors in fear and distrust, turn off that part of us that thrives on love and patience, kindness and truth?

We would like to think, “Yes, I can do that.”

But we deceive ourselves if we try to do that. That is not whom we were designed to be.

As children of a magnanimous God, we have been created to also be magnanimous, to be generous and noble, not petty in conduct or in thought. We have been blessed with the courage to face darkness and ugliness and have been given the tools to confront the wrongs of our society whether that which is wrong is social injustice, poverty or murder of children. We have been saved from our own personal hells, our personal treks through darkness.

I was given a new life, a restoration, a reclamation when I said, “My name is Larry, I am an alcoholic.”

And it was all by grace, an unmerited and undeserved gift of a power greater than myself which even today I cannot define or understand. That’s how it is supposed to be – a mystery which I trust will be revealed when I leave this physical plane of existence.

But there is a price to pay for this gift. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 names this price. This is what God expects of me when times are tough, when minds are frazzled, when hatred wants to take center stage, when human understanding fails.

We can have our temper tantrums, we can scream at the trees, we can swear revenge. But in the end, we will resume our civic duties to turn the tide on violence and hatred and we will return to the love and kindness that floods the darkness with light.

That’s God’s way and that’s the path of sober living.


teacher Marion

When I was in 5th grade at Leck Kill Elementary School, my teacher was Marion, my grandmother’s sister-in-law. Much to my amazement during one of her classes, Marion declared in response to a classmate’s answer to a question, “I’m from Missouri, I don’t believe that. Prove it!”

I was astonished because, as far as I could determine at that young age, all my relatives were native born Pennsylvanians, all of German heritage. Troubled for the rest of the day I made Marion the primary topic of discussion at the supper table with my family.

“Why no, Marion is from Trevorton (a nearby town), ” responded my mother and grandmother, “why would she say that?”

When confronted by her lie, Marion laughed while explaining the meaning of Missouri, the ‘show me state.’ Lesson to be learned was this: don’t believe anything alleged, whispered, declared as truth or seen without ample proof. And even then, ask questions.

Applying this to my recovery, to my commitment to sober living and to the entirety of my faith walk, I would like to believe that when I walked into the rooms of my first AA meeting, listened to the people tell their stories, and wished for the sobriety which they had, I thought, “Yes, this is for me, this is what I want, this is something I can do.”

But that would be a lie. I was a scared drunk simply wanting relief from a life which had put me on the doorstep of suicide. I did not know what I wanted. I was 34 years old feeling like an old man with nothing to live for. And I certainly did not believe that I could do what these sober alcoholics had done…..5, 10, 15 years of sobriety and they had survived without the crutch of alcohol which had carried me for so many years.

“Lord, I can’t do this,” I cried out when I left the meeting and returned home.

“Yes, you can, and here is how you will do it. Surrender your life to me and turn it over to my care.”

“But, Lord, you don’t know. The things I have done, the people I have hurt, the heartaches I have caused those who love me. You just don’t know.”

“I do know. And even so, I never stopped loving you. You are one of my Father’s children. Walk with me. ‘One day at a time’, ‘easy does it’, ‘let go and let God’…’s all there in the meeting rooms.”

Yes, those damned placards on the walls attempting to encourage me. Many nights, I sat quietly listening to others share their stories staring at the sayings on the walls while continuing to think, “Lord, I can’t do this.”

Those nights turned into years until finally through faith in a Higher Power, I realized that “Lord, I can’t” turned into “Lord, by your grace, I will.”

In a nutshell that’s my story and it can be yours also. There are no secrets to sobriety. Walk by faith as long as necessary until you can say, “Yes Lord, I will.”

And you are asking, “Larry, what does teacher Marion have to do with this story?”

Show me; prove it; I don’t believe it. Some of us are sicker than others and some of us need to live by faith until we can see clearly the promises of sobriety.

2 Corinthians 5:7 “We live by faith not by sight.”

control freak – who, me?

lpb quest - the twilight dance

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, wisdom to know the difference.”


Most of us in recovery are failed control freaks.  Read those words again.  You and I have been miserable failures at controlling our lives. Lord knows we did our damnedest to cajole, manipulate, wheedle, urge or threaten loved ones, family and friends to think and do the ‘right way’ which, of course, was always our way.  I see some of you out there denying it, but let us just take a moment of truthful inventorying our past behavior before claiming innocence.  Yeah, just as I thought.  Guilty as charged!

Sometimes our game of controlling others actually worked and we felt victorious.  But our success came at the expense of ruffled feathers, resentments, anger from our victims.  The end result was that we distanced ourselves from…

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