Archive for January 2014

The Great Escape   Leave a comment

The Great Escape

Love and Kindness Show the Way

escapeIt does not take a Bible scholar to look at the world we live in to recognize that we are in the “Last Days.” It takes no more than a few seconds of glancing at the headlines of the newspaper, or listening to the lead stories on the latest news broadcast. Our world

is becoming ever increasingly more angry, bitter and self-interested. Unfortunately many of those that call themselves “Christians” have fallen into the same attitudes and behaviors. In the world that we live in it is easy to get stuck in the motions of just surviving from day to day.

Life becomes a daily challenge to simple outlast the harshness of those that we encounter

As a result we find ourselves becoming hard, cold and bitter as a means of self-protection. In the midst of the struggle our eyes lose focus on who we are and more importantly whose we are and one day we wake up to realize that we no longer feel the joy and anticipation of each new day and we are rather filled with depression and dread. It has come to the point that we bring these same attitudes and behaviors into our most personal relationships including our homes. As I share these thoughts, I honestly admit to you, that I can recognize some of this pattern even within myself, I hope and pray that as you read on you will reflect on your own attitudes and behaviors to find if you have fallen prey to this trap as well.

 Another troubling thing that I have observed in myself and other “Believers” is the tendency to be judgmental, harsh and at times downright cruel towards those whom do not conform to our conservative Christian perspective of how one should look, dress, talk and act. We attempt to justify our actions by calling it discipleship and correction. In actuality it is more of the same negativity. Unfortunately, I believe too many of us have become the very Pharmacies and Sadducees that Jesus encountered in His day and time.

 So what is the answer? What do we do to break this cycle not only in our personal lives, but in the lives of those same hurting people that are also stuck in this cycle?

I think it comes down to one of the “greatest” commandments. “Love your neighbor as yourself”.

The “Love Chapter”, I Corinthians 13 says it this way:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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.

 In most simple terms, “Without love, I am nothing.” Looking a little more deeply, what does this passage have to say about the attitude and behaviors associated with Love? It is almost exactly the opposite of all of the attitudes and behaviors that we have demonstrated in the “trap.” Love is patient, kind and honoring; it does not envy or boast. It is not self-seeking, and is not resentful. It protects, trusts hopes and perseveres. Love never fails.

 Kindness and patience are two of the key words that can be pulled from the passage. I don’t know about you, but especially in the hustle and bustle of life’s pressures and expectations patience is not easy to maintain. Then when we become impatient, there goes our kindness as well.

Scripture goes on to say, ”Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” I John 2:6

 So how did Jesus live? He embodied love and compassion. That being said, the very types of people that we despise and are judgmental towards , they are the same types of people with whom Jesus spent the majority of his time. A women known for sexual impurities was one of his closest friends; he ate among crooks. Among his closest followers were a man prone to anger, a corrupt tax collector and a thief. He showed them mercy and grace; He showed them that they were more than their mistakes and their lives were changed for the better. He demonstrated love and kindness in a way that seemed foreign and stranger to others in his faith.

 So if that is the answer, where do we start?

Let us start with the other of the “great” commandment:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Mark 12:30

When we take our eyes off of all the striving and winning in the here and now and realize that we were created for so much more. We are here for one primary purpose: To be in relationship with our Father in Heaven. When our sights are focused on that and we remember what John said, “We love Him, because He first loved us.” I John 4:19. Despite our struggles and failures He loves us anyway. How can we not love someone that demonstrates that kind of love towards us. When we give and receive that kind of love, then that same love will begin to permeate our very being.

As we are filled with His love that is abounding within us, we can no longer contain it, and love over flows out of us and into the lives of those around us. It touches those closest to us first and then others. This process does not happen overnight it takes time and effort on our part. So we must begin to practice attitudes and behaviors that will become more natural in time.

We can begin to practice by changing how we use a very small but powerful instrument, the tongue. For it is said, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21) Another verse in Proverbs, Proverbs15:4, says it like this,” A soothing tongue is a tree of life,

But perversion in it crushes the spirit.” The same passage in verse one also says,” A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.” We need to take care in the words that we use in our interactions, but even more importantly than that is how we say them. Even when we find ourselves in difficult and at times confrontational situations we should speak with gentleness and kindness rather than becoming angry and aggressive.

As the old idiom goes, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” (Not that we really want a bunch of flies.) This simple reflects the same biblical principal of the power to build up or tear down that is in the tongue. When we speak with kindness, especially in difficult situations in which we have otherwise been harsh and cold, we break the cycle not only in our own lives, but in the lives of those around us.

Of course changing our words is just the beginning. As we grow and move forward in this journey we are transformed from the inside out, resulting not only more and more kindness and love in our words, but also in our deeds. As well known, often repeated quote goes, “Actions speak louder than words,” James said it this way, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” (James 2:26) Our lives begin to reflect the love, grace, mercy, and kindness that Jesus exhibited. When we learn to walk in love kindness we have to worry very little about whom we are offending, because words actions are focused not on improving our personal agenda, but on edifying, encouraging and helping others to grow as they proceed in their own journeys,

As mentioned earlier, these changes in our character, attitude, words and behavior are not going to happen y will take time, effort and at times cause us to suffer pain as we work through our own disappointments and resentments that contributed to our own personal bitterness. What I can guarantee to you is this, if you persevere the blessings and joy that you will attain will have been worth it all. You will be amazed at the freedom and peace that you will discover when you are focused outward rather than inward,

So my friends, are you ready to delve into one of the most exciting and rewarding r you can ever imagine? Are you ready to be free of the chains of resentments, judgments and defensiveness? If so I hope you’ll join me in the journey as we grow in love and kindness within and in our relationships and interactions with others.

Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. John 8:36

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Posted January 13, 2014 by Hope in Recovery in Uncategorized

Hope-2014   Leave a comment

hope-whispersIt is my belief that hope is among the most important things in all of life, even more so for those in recovery of any kind.

Hope is that single force from within that causes us to believe that no matter what the circumstances are today, tomorrow can be better. Without it, there is no motivation to push us through very circumstance and to put forth the effort to overcome them in order to reach a better tomorrow. Hope truly is that proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel”. Hope at times is all that we have left to encourage us to keep up the fight and not to give up even in the hardest of times. Hope pushes us on.

Let’s look a little deeper into this simple yet very deep word.

 To start here are a few definitions:

  • noun: the feeling that some desire will be fulfilled

  • noun: someone (or something) on which expectations are centered

  • verb: intend with some possibility of fulfillment

  • verb: expect and wish

  • verb: be optimistic

The general feeling that some desire will be fulfilled”: Hope has many different forms. At times is experienced as a general positive feeling that what we desire will at some point be fulfilled; and the more imminent the fulfillment the more fervent our hope. This is experienced most generally as an overall optimistic attitude and perspective regarding life as a whole. At other times our hope is more of a “spot light”. We hope for specific things, relationship, promotion on the job, good health, happiness, recovery, etc. Hope is believing that a certain occurrence will come about for our benefit. It pushes us to give our best effort and energy to see that desire achieved. However, it is these hopes that are most often dashed, especially when they are affected by other people and situations that are outside of out control.

Intend with some possibility of fulfillment”: Hope is to determine, to purpose the fulfillment of a goal or desire. In simplest of terms… Hope is a CHOICE. Hope is that choice that you make, no matter how you feel at the moment, that says, “I will succeed”, “I will get better”, “I will …”. Hope is what sets are hearts and minds ablaze with ambition and energy to achieve an expected goal.

This reminds me of a quote made by a gentleman well-known by many of us

, Christopher Reeve. He played the role of Superman in the original “Superman” movies in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Later in life he was tragically and seriously injured in horse riding accident which led to him becoming a quadriplegic.

He stated, “Once you choose hope anything is possible.”

Having made this choice, he went on to do something he was told by countless others he would never do, walk. Albeit, he had the help of some of the best doctors and therapist, he moved again and it was in a very controlled environment, but he did it. Repeatedly after his accident, he talked and encouraged those with disabilities that hope was the only choice. If you don’t believe it here is the story, Christopher Reeve Walks

George Weinberg, a famous psychologist and author, stated similarly, “Hope never abandons you, you abandon it”.

Hope is always present, and available. We give up, allowing our feelings and circumstances to dictate our lives to us, rather than choosing to hang on to hope and refusing to give up on our dreams and goals.

One final quote from another individual that we are all very familiar with, and from one of the most famous speeches of all time: Martin Luther King, Jr., from “I have a Dream”

If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream.”

Hope is that unseen, unheard, and often even unfelt force that is within every human being that keeps “life moving”. It is that force that gives us the strength and courage to be who we are, ourselves.

hope.remainsDespite our weaknesses and faults we can be ourselves and have strength and faith to keeping moving forward in spite of our past, our hurts, our mistakes and circumstances. In spite of it all we must “still have a dream”, something to hope for, some goal some expectation that we set our hearts, our minds, our entire being towards achieving.

When all else has failed …CHOOSE HOPE!!

HAVING

OPTIMISTIC &

POSITIVE

EXPECTATIONS

Posted January 12, 2014 by Hope in Recovery in Uncategorized

Heart of Hope Manifesto 2014   Leave a comment

HOH-logo3At it’s inception, this little project, ministry, whatever you want to call it started simply as a coping skills class that I developed and provided as a part of my job in the Patient Education program at the State Psychiatric Facility where I work. The class known as “Road to Recovery” utilizes an active, interactive model of sharing and communicating information. The basic strategies is to address the issues of recovery from mental illness and substance abuse issues from a holistic, whole person, perspective. In the process of interacting with those that attended the class during their treatment and watching as many would be discharged only to be re-admitted within a relatively short period of time. I finally acknowledged something, these individuals needed something more that was not available in their home communities. We all know too well, “there are NOT enough resources available in most communities to adequately support those that are on this journey on a daily basis.

That being said, in April of 2010 Road to Recovery took its first steps standing on its own feet with the launch of a blog and then not long after that a Facebook. Page, and then Facebook “Group”. Since that time a “profile” has been set up that at the time of this update nearly 1600 “friends”. The project has branched into a number of other social media platforms as well, including: Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, Pinterest and Deviantart. Also since that time, the projects name has changed (or at least parts of it have) a few times. Currently the primary name is “Heart of Hope”.

So what is Heart of Hope today?

Well, Heart of Hope continues to be the persona taken on by this writer with the hopes that through our interactions either personal, one on one, in the blog or other means of communication that you will experience on of the following as a result of that interaction:

  • Enlighten: To me, to enlighten is to share information with others so as to teach them something that they did not previously know, in order to allow them to improve the state of their lives.
  • Encourage: I recently described encouraging as offering a hand to another whom has slipped and fallen along their way and helping them to get back to their feet,
  • Inspire: Continuing from the previous thought, once the individual has gotten back on their feet; to inspire is to walk alongside and urge them on in their journey, rooting them on saying “you can do it”.
  • Instill Hope. To give, to share or impart hope. Hope is the belief that something good will happen and success is possible.
  • Empower: Finally, to empower is to have others come to the realization of the strength and courage that resides within, so as to believe in themselves and their potential for success.

To this day and as long as I am blessed to continue this journey, this will be me mission and my purpose whether it is in face to face interactions or by utilizing modern technology.

However, I have also learned a very valuable lesson through this process, I have come to realize that I am merely A voice. I am not THE Voice. That brings me to the second and probably the more important part of Heart of Hope today.

I see it as a caring community of travelers who are all on the same journey, striving to overcome our “issues” and be “better” than we were yesterday.

We come all parts of this great planet on which we occupy, with all different types of problems including but NOT limited to any of the following:

  • Mental Illness – Depression, Bipolar, Schizophrenia, etc
  • Substance Abuse/Dependence
  • Co-Occurring Disorders – Both of the above at the same time.
  • Eating Disorders
  • Personality Disorders – Borderline, Dependent, Histrionic
  • Trauma – Abuse, PTSD, etc.

We come together to share of struggles, our victories our joy and our tears. In sharing our experiences, we draw strength from one another, and individually and corporately we

are one step further along in our journey. We acknowledge our similarities as well as our differences, respecting both. We will not always see eye to eye, but we can always accept one another’s opinions and discuss issues and ideas without resorting to personal attacks.

Every physical road has curves, mountains valleys, pot holes, signs, etc. The same is true in regards to personal recovery process and our growth as a community.

What determines if we are successful in our recovery and maintain our personal and corporate well-being is how well we navigate these obstacles as we face them on our journey? Just as in driving, if we do not navigate these appropriately we will find ourselves in the bar ditch, or in recovery terms, relapse.

I hope and pray that as you navigate along your journey, you will find enlightenment, encouragement, inspiration, be instilled with hope and ultimately feel empowered as you continue on as a result of being a part of this project. Similarly, I hope that you will share your failures, successes, struggles and insights here. In doing so we help one another on this journey we call recovery,

Heart of Hope Vision Statement

To develop and maintain a collaborative community of consumers and providers of mental health and/or substance abuse services, in order to create an environment that promotes hope, recovery and personal growth.

 I’ll tell you what it really means to worship the LORD. Remove the chains of prisoners who are chained unjustly. Free those who are abused! Isaiah 58:6 (CEV)

Heart of Hope Organizational Mission Statement

 Hope for Healing Hurting Hearts is a non-profit outreach ministry with the sole purpose of sharing hope and healing to the hurting, especially those confronted with various forms of mental illness or substance abuse/dependence. It is recognized that these individuals are not the only ones affected by their challenges; they are not in this journey alone. They are a part of families and other social networks. These other networks are an integral part of the individual’s life and recovery and as such should be considered and included in the recovery process.

 This sharing of “hope and healing” is characterized by the following foundational principles:

  •  Enlighten:to share information with others so as to teach them something that they did not previously know, or to assist them in recall of previously known information, in order to allow them to improve the state of their lives.
  •  Encourage: To give help or to inspire with courage. In other words, offering a hand to another whom has slipped and fallen along their way and helping them to get back to their feet.
  •  Inspire: To influence, exert an animating, enlivening, or exalting influence on, to spur on or motivate. Continuing from the previous thought, once the individual has gotten back on their feet; to inspire is to walk alongside and urge them on in their journey, rooting them on saying “you can do it”.
  •  Instill Hope. To give, to share or impart hope. Hope is the belief that something good will happen and success is possible.
  • Empower: To promote the realization of the strength and courage that resides within, so as to believe in themselves and their potential for success.

This goal is achieved through a number of different avenues and techniques including, but not limited to the following:

  • Written materials

  • Motivational Speaking

  • Educational Workshops and Seminars

  • Personal Interactions – Face to Face, Telephone and Virtual (E-mail, Chat, Social Networks, etc.)

Posted January 12, 2014 by Hope in Recovery in Hope, Recovery, Uncategorized, Update

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