Archive for August 2011

Two Gates – One Choice   2 comments

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14 (KJV)


Go in through the narrow gate. The gate to destruction is wide, and the road that leads there is easy to follow. A lot of people go through that gate. But the gate to life is very narrow. The road that leads there is so hard to follow that only a few people find it. (CEV)

This passage is set in the midst of Jesus great ‘Sermon on the Mount” and obviously gives us direction regarding the choices and direction of our lives. It is also a very clear picture of our journey in recovery. The only difference is that everyday we are faced with that same decision over and over and over again. I once said, Each step in recovery is one step further away from where/who you were and one closer to who you really are, and where you want to be!” Despite that truth, everyday and at times throughout the day, the “Wide Gate” continually offers itself for us to enter in. Thus AA has slogans like:“One day at a time” and “Do the next right thing”. They are all about recognition of this precise challenge.

That being said, I personally began using a new closing in my correspondence, “One Breath, one Step, one Day at a time.” Ever moment of everyday we are faced with situations and decisions, some so seemingly small that we react without giving them a second thought, others are far more difficult and require more processing. The scary part is, the “small” thoughtless decisions have just as much potential for changing our lives for the positive or negative as the “bigger” and more difficult ones.

Let me share with you a brief example: I was running late to work after lunch one day and focused on getting back as quickly as possible. Because I was in a hurry, I quick
ly decided to accelerate through a red light that had just turned from yellow. Because I was not paying attention, I did not see the one-ton Pick-up that had just exited the interstate and he “t-boned” my front end spinning me 270 degrees, and ultimately totaling my vehicle. Luckily I nor the other driver were seriously injured. That one thoughtless decision could have not only altered, but ended m
y life.

So as the author and poet, Robert Frost said,”Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–I took the one less traveled by,And that has made all the difference.“ From the Road Less Traveled”

So how do I go about making sure that I am taking the right path. One clear indicator is that if you are surrounded by others that all seem to be moving through life as fast or faster than you are, then you are probably not on the right path. Where as when you feel like you are alone and struggling just to take the next step, then you are probably in just the right place. The good news that we are not alone on this journey. We are not left to our own devices and wisdom alone as we travel. First and foremost we have our “Higher Power”. I refer to Him as God, the Heavenly Father; the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He has provided us with His written and infallible Word and His Spirit He has placed within those that believe. His word on more than one occasion provides instructions for when we do not know “what the next right thing” is.

Matthew 7:7-11“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

When we find ourselves at a crossroads where it is difficult to determine, which path is not just the “right” one, but the “God’ one, all we have to do is ASK!

Even then, if you are still unsure there give you a few simple suggestions:

  1. Love God with EVERYTHING that you have. (Matthew 22:36-39)
  2. Love others and treat them how you would want to be treated.
  3. Examine your actions and thoughts and test them against the “Fruit of the Spirit” – love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:21-23)


I can guarantee one thing, at least at the beginning, the “narrow road” will NOT any easy one. But as we overcome one obstacle after another, we get stronger and more confident and the trials slowly do not seem as difficult to manage and overcome. Eventually, sooner than later, if we keep up doing the work, we find ourselves no longer “making mountains out of mole hills” rather we begin to make “molehills out of Mountains”

Rather than mumbling, grumbling and complaining about our situations, let us do as a before mentioned passage of scriptures recommend and

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

Have you noticed that having a bad attitude does not help the situation get any better, however, when we keep a positive attitude, we things just seem to “be” better. This scripture and thought reminds me of a comment that I recently saw posted by several friends on Facebook, with some slight wording changes it is:

I am strong because I know my weaknesses, I am alive because I am a fighter, I am wise because I have been foolish, and I can laugh because I have known sadness. I am proud and strong. I made it through the storm and learned to dance in the rain!’

We grow grow stronger and wiser through the trials and hardships. Let me use an analogy: You can’t sharpen a knife by running the blade under water. You must have some kind of sharpening tool with a rough surface which the blade is rubbed against. Rubbing the surface of the blade against the rough surface smooths, straightens and polishes the edge of the blade, sharpening it.

Trials and “storms” are the tools that develop our character, smoothing out our weaknesses and polishing our strengths. When we take the Wide and easy road through life with out these trials we develop no character of our own and never truly define who we are as a person.

So let us be grateful for the potholes, treacherous cliffs (some of which we have fallen off of), and thorn patches because these are the very experiences that have molded us into the strong and capable people that we are today. I know many of you are look at yourself and you do not see strong and capable. I challenge yo to reconsider that perspective of yourself. If you were not strong and capable, where would you be today? One thing I am sure of, it is not where you are!

So, no matter how hard the path seems right now, I urge to wake up every morning and say the following affirmation out loud to yourself:

Today is a new day; I choose to be grateful for all that I have and to follow the narrow road that leads to peace and contentment. I know each step may be difficult, but I will approach each trial confidently, knowing that as I persevere I am become wiser, stronger and ultimately happier!” 

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Then and now – From Diagnosis to a Gradual Recovery. I am no longer ashamed… (via The Beauty of Being Untypical)   1 comment

I hope you enjoy this powerful story of hope and courage. Kait does not only tell her story, but she educates others regarding her illness and gives encouragement to helpful insights to others with similar struggles. I look forward to continued collaboration with her. I hope you enjoy and are inspired by her words as I was!.

Since birth, or so I was told because I obviously can’t remember, I was extremely anxious and “clingy.” I stayed close to my family as young person and never rebelled or took the risks as some of the other children and teens would, but I have my own share of experiences too. I was almost always attached to my mom’s hip and that kept me feeling safe. It gave me a sense of internal comfort that I was constantly lacking like an endless starvation. I … Read More

via The Beauty of Being Untypical

Life Happens!   Leave a comment

life-happens

Posted August 15, 2011 by Hope in Recovery in Uncategorized

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GUEST POST – Not. My Kid. Kelli’s Story:   2 comments

Not My Kid – Kelli’s Story:  

Advice for Desperate Parents about your Child’s Addiction, from a Former Homecoming Queen Turned Drug Addict

By: Kelli Athas / Personal Interventionist, Intercept Interventions

High school homecoming queen. Cheerleader. I was beautiful, bright-eyed, popular, and had every advantage. I came from a good, solid family who loved me; I had friends I loved being with, and a future that shined bright with opportunity. Then I made a choice that changed my life forever.

I am a recovering drug addict.

I have walked the streets with prostitutes. I have eaten table scraps. I lived the nightmare you fear for your child. I have done things to get high that I am deeply, deeply ashamed of…I understand desperation. I have been to hell, and by an unfathomable grace I am alive and healthy today.

Your child is a drug addict. You are in a desperate place right now; I understand. I have breathed inside your son or your daughter’s skin. I have been consumed, eaten alive, with a force that was a thousand times greater than me…a force that is right now consuming your child’s body, heart, mind, and soul. Inside every hour of every day I was addicted to drugs, my mother and my family tried to help me; they hoped, cried, prayed and lived a frantic existence of worry and fear. If you are the parent of an addict you likely feel just as out of control as the addict you so desperately want to help. You want to cure your baby. Unfortunately you cannot cure this person you love.

Perhaps accepting the fact that there is no cure, no quick fix that will make everything go back to your “normal” family life is the first step toward strength and clarity for you. There is an overabundance of well-intentioned (and many non-well-intentioned) people advertising quick methods that will change your loved one’s life, make them get off drugs and become whole again. The reality is there is no one that can cure drug addiction. An addict must first face up to their addiction and admit they need help. They will need to find a support group best fits their needs, and stick with it. Recovery is a journey not a destination. The insanity and chaos that is imbued in addiction toys with emotions, and feelings become erratic and unpredictable. This is one of the reasons it is vitally important to seek an objective point of view from someone who’s been in an addict’s shoes, in their skin, someone you trust to give you and your family hope and guidance.

I am still so saddened when I remember the pure exhaustion and desperation on my mother’s face when she would look at me during my struggle. She wanted so much for me to overcome this disease, but it would be a long road to recovery for me. I’ve been in treatment several times. I got out of my first rehab in 1996 and my mom thought the nightmare was over and life would go back to normal. No one explained this is a lifelong journey, a battle for me and for her. The greatest lesson I learned in my first stint in rehab was that I needed to hide my addiction better. I never thought of myself like the others in rehab; they were failures, they were low. Some whored their bodies to get money to buy drugs, others stole from their parents and kind-hearted friends. I was nothing like this. But after leaving the recovery program and getting back to my toxic patterns, I realized in the blink of an eye that I was lying to myself – I was exactly like them.

Addiction manifests itself in many ways. Manipulation and deception are huge indicators of trouble to come. Parents be vigilant – teens know how to manipulate. In my senior year of high school I was voted “Miss Smooth Talker”…and I considered this an accomplishment. The title should’ve been “Miss Manipulator” because that’s exactly what I had become. I thought “just one time for fun” would be just one time for fun – but instead it kick-started an all-consuming lust to chase that first high. It’s an indisputable fact that a high rate of teens begin their alcohol & drug use at this pivotal age in their life, as a parent it is an excruciatingly frightening scenario. No one can predict it and no one knows what they’ll do unless they’re in it themselves. It’s common to want to give your child the benefit of the doubt. Praying it’s only a phase, & for many it may be just that. But if your child has been experimenting and because of it they receive some adverse consequences, such as being suspended from school and they continue to use, that is when serious action should be to be taken. If you don’t seek help your taking the risk that they will fall into the vicious cycle of addiction.

Educating families & kids about addiction is not easy. My advice to you: get in their face. Ask them the uncomfortable questions, and if they try to blow you off, if they try to manipulate you, do not budge. If you’re not talking to your kids about drugs, someone will. Find out who their friends are. Find out where they hang out, what they do after-school. Protect them when they don’t know enough to protect themselves.

The social stigma of “not my child, they’re smarter than that” is not enough and will not help you help them. If your son or daughter has an addiction problem my advice to you is dig deep for strength, draw it from your love for them, and walk beside them through their journey toward recovery without expectation and without judgment. Be their parent, their cheerleader and the person they can trust most in the world. And no matter how dark it gets and how much they struggle to run away from you, never let them go!

Kelli Athas is a certified national drug and alcohol interventionist. She and her husband Nick Athas are the founders of Intercept Interventions, a program that helps families through the intervention process. Kelli is a highly sought after drug and alcohol recovery expert and works with courts, child protection services’ case managers and school administrators to mentor teens struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.

http://www.interceptinterventions.com/


My Own Little World   Leave a comment

What if there’s a bigger picture?
What if I’m missing out?
What if there’s a greater purpose?
I could be living right now
Outside my own little world

from “My Own Little World” by Matthew West

 I woke up at 3 AM with this song resounding through my head. The entire song is actually quite beautiful and inspiring. (I hope that you will listen to it at the link provided at the end.)

So what’s the message of these simple lyrics? My hope and prayer is that we discover the answer to this question together as we discuss these words and a few passages of scripture that I have found to be well-fitting.

Our lives can get to the point were they seem to be a never-ending whirlwind of activities:

Work, raising kids, meetings, cleaning house, church, laundry, friends, and the list goes on and on and ….  I know I am as guilty as any of getting drawn in to “”busyness” and going through the motions; existing in my environment, but not really living.  In essence we have become “nearsighted” in our relationships, activities and our very “being”. We have turned our vision and our focus solely on microcosm of those things that affect us directly. Everything else is simply a blur.

However there is great truth in this chorus is this:

There IS a bigger picture

I AM missing out

I HAVE a greater purpose.

As long as I continue with my head down looking down and in I will miss out and not even recognize the bigger picture or what I am actually missing out on. I will simply know that I am not fully content or happy in the life that I am living.

So if we can agree that there is a “bigger” picture, then what is it?

Community, sharing, and giving a little bit of me to others so as to make their lives better.

As John Donne the English poet of the late 16th and early 17th Centuries said it, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent.”
Another rather well-known writer, The Apostle Paul, stated it this way:

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.  Romans 12:4-6

 We are each a piece of the whole. In a sense as we are NOT our “own little world” floating in outer space unconnected with no effect on others around us. We are a part of an intricate system of beings interacting with one another, hopefully for the betterment of all.

As another highly respected teacher said it: “A new commandment I give unto you: that ye love one another, as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples: if ye have love one for another.”  Jesus (John 13:34-35)

This is definitely the case where 1+1≠2. When we look around at our co-workers, clients, neighbors, and even that stranger in front of you in line at the grocery store, we will realize that we are actually more alike than we are different. That last sentence that Jesus said in that verse sums up the whole of each of our purposes: “By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples: if ye have love one for another.” In one word… LOVE!

Old Faithful, “Miriam Webster” defines love as “strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties” Notice again the connection, “kinship or personal ties”.

In real life terms for the 21st century, what is love? Love is sharing who you are, with others, your heart, emotions, time, talents, and resources. As we give love, then in turn we also receive it in return from others.  Pitcher tipped and pouring into other pitchers, however simultaneously, there are other pitchers being poured into it. However the instant that it is turned up and is no longer pouring, neither are those pouring into it. That which it holds simply grows stale and stagnates.

When we live our lives in “our own little world”, and we are not “loving” those around us, our lives grow stale, unfulfilling, unrewarding and in short futile.

 “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful…. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  Jesus in (Luke 6:36-38)

The size of the gesture is not important. Some of the smallest of acts have absolutely changed the lives of others.

  • A simple sincere smile and “God Bless You” to clerk at the grocery store. What you don’t know is that her husband just left her and her three kids and she is on the verge of giving up. However your kindness and love reminded her that there was hope.
  • A bottle of water and a “Thank You” to the postal worker delivering your mail in 100+ degree temperatures.
  • A burger and soda for the homeless veteran standing on the street corner.
  • Or lastly, simply being a sounding board and a shoulder to cry on for a hurting friend.

My friends, it does not take much, but can you imagine the difference that each of us could make in “our own little worlds” just by sharing a little bit of His Love! Just think, 11 men with a story and a lot of “LOVE” changed a lot more than their “own little world”, there are a lot more than 11 of us, why can’t we do the same thing!

I refer back to Romans 12:6, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.”

We all have SOMETHING to give. So whatever you have to give, GIVE!

If you sing then SING; If you teach then TEACH;

If you encourage then ENCOURAGE; If you give then GIVE.

….whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

My friends I urge you to look up and around you, seek out opportunities to “pour out” His love and get out of your “own little world” and make a difference in the whole one that He holds in His hands.

My Own Little World

Matthew West

from the album The Story of Your Life

http://youtu.be/M9Yasgzjc0w

In my own little world it hardly ever rains
I’ve never gone hungry, always felt safe
I got some money in my pocket, shoes on my feet
In my own little world, population: me
I try to stay awake during Sunday morning church
I throw a twenty in the plate but I never give ’til it hurts
And I turn off the news when I don’t like what I see
Yeah, it’s easy to do when it’s population: meWhat if there’s a bigger picture?
What if I’m missing out?
What if there’s a greater purpose?
I could be living right now
Outside my own little world

Stopped at a red light looked out my window
I saw a cardboard sign said, “help this homeless widow”
And just above that sign was the face of a human
I thought to myself, God, what have I been doing?
So I rolled down the window and I looked her in the eye
Oh, how many times have I just passed her by?
I gave her some money than I drove on through
And my own little world reached population: two

What if there’s a bigger picture?
What if I’m missing out?
What if there’s a greater purpose?
I could be living right now
Outside my own little world
My own little world
Father, break my heart for what breaks Yours
Give me open hands and open doors
Put Your light in my eyes and let me see
That my own little world is not about meWhat if there’s a bigger picture?
What if I’m missing out?
What if there’s a greater purpose?
That I could be living right now
I don’t want to miss what matters
I wanna be reaching out
Show me the greater purpose
So I can start living right now

Outside my own little world
My own little world
My own little world

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