Archive for the ‘Grace’ Category

This guy, Jonah Hadley, Big Pastor J, headed off to Wells Maine to start a church. Keep his travels in prayer, pray to keep his family safe and pray for the lost to be found up in Maine.
6 years ago I was lost. I was a bottom feeding self induced drug addict paving my own prison pathway to destruction and death.
I was in the Salvation Army Rehabilitation Center trying to find out why and how I got to such a rock bottom in my life after a 10 year addiction to opiates and other drugs. Well that sentence explains the rock bottom. I needed help and I needed it fast.
One night at the Salvation Army, during a meeting that we were required to attend, in walks Jonah, this big dude, full head of hair, bible on his side and a determined stare. Here we go right?
He started to speak and all of a sudden my ears opened up. Now I wasn’t new to this Christian thing, I’ve been one most of my life, just never walked my talk.
Jonah started spitting truth. Right from his heart. No beating around the bush, no watery phrases or advice of the world; he gave a short testimony and went on to talk about how you can basically become free from this so called ‘disease’ of addiction. There are about 100 guys in this room, and hearing Jonah speak like he was talking directly to me or someone one on one in front of so many roughed up men, was impressive.
God used Jonah to get to me, as well as so many, God also used the program, its counselors and as a matter of fact, other addicts as well.
Jonah would come in once a month to the rehab and keep offering this freedom. He kept offering the Word of God and freedom through Christ and how simple it was.
Me and a bunch of others would eventually attend service, meetings at Calvary, which is now Great Rock Church. There we met other addicts, other people with issues just like us. A real down to earth community of believers.
I always thanked Jonah for his sincerity and his honesty although he always told me “it isn’t me brother, it’s the Lord”… I said I know man, but you chose to allow Him to work through you, and for that I thank you brother.
I can proudly say Jonah is a true friend. Always there to listen and definitely there to tell you how it is! He’s all about Truth, accountability and telling it how it should be but from the heart and most of all from the Word of God.
Thank you for being there for me brother. Thank you for hearing me when I was down and hearing me when I am up. Thank you for your strength and your faith that is displayed for myself and others to live and learn by. A true leader, made through discipleship from other strong leaders as well.
We’ll be visiting you soon up in Maine brother and will enjoy many more years together in His Light.

We’ll be keeping your path and your family in prayer. I know God has big things coming for those who keep the faith!!
My pastor, my friend, my brother. Godspeed.
“May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you His favor and give you His peace.”
Numbers 6:24-26

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This is a little personal. I wrote this to myself the day before I admitted myself into a 6 month program at the Salvation Army rehabilitation center. I gave it to my brother and told him to give it to me when I got out.
I was suicidal. I was at my rock bottom. I had no hope and I had not an ounce of faith left. I am sharing it now because it is not only a reminder of where opiate abuse left me, but maybe someone will read this and will be able to relate. I’m not even sure why I wrote it, maybe after almost 10 years of running around like a rampant junkie, I finally wanted help. Maybe I knew I was finally ready? Because if it wasn’t then, if I didn’t get help, I knew I couldn’t go on any longer. Even breathing was painful. I was done.
By sharing this I’m hoping maybe someone can relate and find a bit of solitude or enough energy to get up and get help too… It may not make much sense but It sure did 4 years ago.

“You’re back, congrats for making 6 months of sobriety. DO NOT let it get to your head. You wrote this withdrawing, sick, diarrhea, confused, afraid, helpless, down, pissed off, ALONE. You did this all to yourself. All to yourself. You want this all back? Start sniffing those f****** percs up your nose. Go ahead, your life will go right back into a hole again, a lifeless, useless, lonely f****** hole.
You want to keep your life? Stick to Christ, family and surround yourself with encouraging people. Stay busy. Love what you have because what you have right now is so precious. Trust me, I wrote this. I AM YOU.
Just a reminder of how you felt the day before rehab… sick, food will not digest, cold sweats, hot flashes, diarrhea, INSOMNIA, headaches, heartburn, nausea, blurred vision, quivers, skeletal and joint pain.
Here are the pains, repercussions of life around you… You feel mentally inadequate, alone, afraid, people will not trust you. You hurt your beautiful mother, your brothers, your father (who will never understand you, but hey, love you for you, and love him for him.) You lied, stole and cheated. You have come so close to going to jail, so many times God intervened.
You became a bum. A junky, a loser. You are so fortunate to be alive, to be reading this, a free, rehabilitated man.
Remember that 6 month journey. Keep your head up! Put this behind you. Stay strong. Help those in need.

Find what you love to do AND DO IT!

Love,
Yourself

P.S. DON’T F*** UP MICHAEL.”

I’m not too sure what pushed me to write this back then. I’m glad I did though. I read it once in a while and I reflect on where I was and what life was like being an addict. It’s like a book mark. When I see it, it puts me right back where I used to be for a short time. It helps me be grateful for everything I have. It helps me stay humble. It helps me remain teachable. I don’t ever want to go back to that lifestyle ever again. I can’t. I know it will destroy me. It will kill me.
I thank my heavenly Father above for the strength to keep moving forward each and every day. I hope this helps someone in one way or another.

God Bless you

Become Free. Become the Difference!

Some of us will be doing the same old thing, some of us will be making changes, some of us will be continuing on the road toward a brighter future.
What ever path you are on be Humble, remain Teachable and stay Grateful.
Thank God for all things.
Be Strong, Be Courageous.
Always look back and see how you are doing. Make adjustments, make improvements, better yourself and become an example for others to follow.
Life comes at us hard sometimes but we have people placed in our lives to help us get through just about anything!
Most of all we have a God who we can call upon when we are down, a God to praise when we are grateful and a God to thank when we succeed.
Persevere, keep your head up, be confident, renew your mind and walk with your chin up knowing that your strength comes not from you but through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the One who died for us, the One who has your back no matter what.
He will never leave you nor forsake you.
Be full of Faith, be full of Hope.
Walk not just believing, walk knowing.
Love blindly.
Love.
Become the Difference.
Happy New Year and may God Bless you beyond your wildest dreams!

Black-Friday-Line

Happy Thanksgiving!

Let’s get all excited to meet up with family and friends most of us do not even want to see. Sad but true. If we were that excited to see our friends and family we see on Thanksgiving, we would probably see them more often right?

A time for harvest and celebration of gratefulness, giving thanks and overly warming others with comforting propaganda. A time to eat a ton of food that will most likely knock you out for an hour or two. If you’re of Irish or Italian descent, the gossip has already started in the kitchen.

It IS a great time to catch up and spend time with family and friends. Eat some great home cooking and just take a break from life for a few and relax. But the main reason for this holiday is in its title ‘Thanks’… ‘Giving Thanks’.

Welcome to America. Home of commercializing anything that makes money and ups ratings. ‘Black Friday’… Shop until your wallet’s empty. Camp out in front of a huge chain store as if you wanted to be first in line to be touched by the Pope. Trample over anyone and anything that’s in the way when the floodgates open to get that ‘once in a lifetime bargain’.

Anyway… back to giving thanks and being grateful. I thank God for work. I thank Him for being able to do the things I was not able to do. Simple things. Like remaining opiate free. Not so simple yet so simple. Things like not having to wake up in the fetal position, dope sick. Like not having diahrea flying out my back side due to withdrawals. I thank Him for the people in my life who are productive and beneficial to my success. Success as in a forward movement, not living in the past and overlooking where and what I was but where and what I am today, strong, confident and alive.

I’m thankful for the littlest things. Things I dare not say because most of you just won’t get it. I got a heater switch fixed in my work truck. It made my day! I thanked God. I’m STILL happy and thankful for it. I bought a new pair of boots; my smile is much bigger because of them.

I’m also able to do the best I can at work; to perform at my fullest. I’m thankful for the ability to show up to a job and complete it within a scheduled time frame. Thankful for the ability to keep moving forward to the next job, building integrity and trust with clientele.

Why so thankful? Why so thankful for the small things as well as the big things? Why do I resort to thanking God for everything I have? Well, who else am I going to thank?

There was a time where I was a slave. A slave to an addiction. I gave my life to it and I lost everything. Literally. Homeless. Lost. No faith. No hope. Complete emptiness. On a suicidal road to a second death. So when my life turned around, I gave birth to a whole new sense of living, a whole new sense of self-worth and a whole new method of understanding gratefulness; what being grateful really means.

See, I gave up. I surrendered. God pushed me toward this place called the Cross. Where I fell to my knees and fully surrendered MY ways, MY wants and MY needs. I asked Jesus to come into my life and make me new. And why it took so long to do so, I do not know. It’s free for crying out loud. I always knew it was. It didn’t cost a dime. Just took willingness to understand that my ways got me no where and that His ways are True and will guide me as I move forward. I always knew He was there and always knew He was willing to forgive me of my transgressions and wipe them out as far as the east is from the west. But this is my story. The path I chose.

I’m thankful to be alive to be able to be thankful. So why do I thank God? I thank God for His Son paying the ultimate penalty for my wrongs. That because of what Jesus went through for me, I am able to live, through Him. I am able to live and enjoy His Grace and His Mercy on a daily basis with thanks and gratefulness because of Him. This is why I thank God for every little thing that I have that goes good, that goes bad and that simply goes.

“Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son

And now let the weak say, “I am Strong”
Let the poor say, “I am Rich”
Because of what the Lord has done, for Us… Give Thanks.”

Become Free… Become the Difference!

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Does a cloudy, stormy picture like this make us miserable or are we already miserable and this triggers it? I think storms are awesome and beautiful myself…

I’m no doctor. But I can tell you, that through perseverance, dedication and remaining grateful for what I have simply makes me happy. I actually love life and everything it has to offer.

I’ve heard quotes like this one, “The seeds of depression will never take root in a Grateful heart!” How true is this? I sit back often and reflect where I was, where I could be and where I am. Yes, I have days where I am stressed out but it’s temporary. I feel anger, sadness and loads of pressure with the daily struggles of life but I constantly tell myself that I have a God who is greater than any problem I will ever have.

Usually when I’m driving to work first thing in the morning, I daze off a little and remember where my life used to be. I put myself where I was, depressed, tormented and enslaved by addiction then quickly I snap back to reality. I usually say to myself “Thank you Lord for your Grace and where I am today” or “What a sick way to live”… those are my two replies usually.

Then I thank Him for saving me and I reflect on what I am grateful for. I go over every little thing I have and am so thankful because I know that if I were still living in addiction, I would be so miserable and depressed; barely living, just floating around like a zombie, hustling and haunting anyone with money and seeking enablers.

I see people who claim and hold on to bi-polar, anxiety and other excusable issues. I see people who are so stressed out. I see people who are constantly complaining and are just absolutely miserable. I don’t know if it’s because they haven’t experienced what it’s like to lose everything. And I mean everything.
I don’t know if it’s because they haven’t fully surrendered their old nature and allowed a change to take place. I don’t know if they are just so stubborn that being humble, teachable and grateful are nonexistent in their daily vernacular, that they are words they probably do not understand.

I used to be on the quick acting Ativan, Xanax and many other long term anti-depressants as well. I actually still have panic attacks but they are getting so much better. Yes, the hyperventilating, “where did THAT come from”, no warning, “I’m gonna piss myself” panic attacks. They suck. I actually went to a respiratory doctor, had x-rays done and he said, “Everything’s fine, it’s all in your head Mike.” “Oh, great, that’s just wonderful, thanks Doc.” I said to him as I was leaving the hospital with a confused look on my face. Now what am I supposed to do? I think I may have even laughed at myself the whole ride home!

“So not also do I have an addiction problem, I now have a mental issue!? Great.” That’s what I was dealing with. Totally freaking out over everything. This was a time before I got help. Before I tried. Before I put any effort into anything. I was still lost. I didn’t even know how to persevere, I couldn’t, I was so weak. My choices were wrong and my addiction belittled my sense of who I was.

Well, 3 years coming up with one very short relapse after 10 months, after a surgery I was not even close to being prepared for. Glad it happened though. I am stronger from it. I knew what to do, who to talk to and where to go, thanks to time in rehab and thanks to the people who offered time and served as lighthouses in my life, God I am so thankful for them.

It took time, clean, no drugs at all, not even Tylenol or Advil. It took time to persevere and gain a strength that I have never had before. A strength that keeps getting stronger as each day goes by. I persevered by remaining teachable. That I am and will always be a work in progress. That I will always have the ability to learn and grow. That I do have the capability to be humble and close my mouth when I am supposed to. To thank God for a paycheck, for family, for friends. That listening to others speak and understanding that it is not all about me. That accepting others for who they are and where they are in life, without judgment, puts my life into perspective. That I do have something to offer. That I am strong enough to overcome obstacles and achieve my goals. That I do indeed have the power to say no, but not only say no, but to tell someone that they do not have to live this way, and offer advice, plant a seed, and move forward.

Thank you Lord for this gift. As I continue to be humble, remain teachable and stay grateful for what you have given and continue to give me, I am looking forward to a happy life with You and every blessing You are going to offer. The biggest blessing is hoping I touched someone’s life in one way or another.

Become Free! Become the Difference!

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My mom, the one I probably hurt the most during my destructive journey.

Mom’s love their kids wholeheartedly and almost with a Godly love, an unconditional love. No matter what happens you know your mom will be there and love you no matter what. It’s such a comfort knowing that too.

Today is Mother’s Day and it was nice to be able to drop off some flowers to my mom and spend a little time with her. Things were not always this grand though. I caused some damage during my addiction and to be where I am today is simply a blessing. But there was a time when I didn’t speak to my mom for almost two years. Nothing she had done, just simply guilt and shame for what I had done.

I was a junky at the time and being a low class junky I did stupid selfish things. I stole, I lied and I manipulated. I should have ended up in jail for what I did, let alone hell for what I did. Walking around with no faith and no hope brought complete shame to me for my actions. I didn’t have the guts to call my mom up for two years. Disgusting.

I contacted her the day before I went into rehab. Why? Because I knew I needed change and that this change would help with our relationship. I knew that things would be better, not perfect, but better and I knew that I had some work to do, even to this day, building up trust.

But I knew, even to this day, that during those two years of not contacting my mom, she still loved me the way she always does. That agape love. The love you can not break. Did I take advantage of that? Yup. I hurt her bad. I hurt her and lied right to her face even when she knew the answer and she still loved me.

This is how God loves us. Unconditionally. We mess up, we hurt others, we destroy bridges but God always loves us no matter what. When we ask God to forgive us, He cleanses us from ALL unrighteousness, He forgives us as far as the east is from the west, He removes our transgressions! He is faithful and just to do so.

This is why asking for forgiveness is so important and confessing our exact wrongs to the people we hurt is so healing and powerful.

Going up to the person we hurt and simply saying “I was wrong, I hope one day you can forgive me…” may be tough but it takes the load off our backs. It’s giving a little of the pain away and allowing room for forgiveness. I am still, to this day, asking people for forgiveness for my past. It’s something we must do to improve ourselves and to move forward. It shows that we are not always first, that we can be humbled, be grateful and remain teachable.

My mom didn’t deserve one thing, not one repercussion, not one lie during my addiction. She forgave me. Her love persevered through a tough time. Because of the love she has shown for me, because of the love God has shown and continues to show for me, because of His wonderful Grace and His Mercy, because I have been given so many second chances, and simply because I know for a fact that I do not deserve any of it… I try to give back and love as best as I can.

This life of Recovery, the amount of gratitude I have, the chance to give back, the unsurpassing love and Grace that I have experienced from friends and family I have hurt, people that didn’t know me and offered their time to help me, complete strangers who offered advice, counselors, program directors, other addicts…

Thanks mom for your love and your strength. I love you. Because of you, I know how to love and I know how to be strong.

Become Free, Become the Difference!