Archive for the ‘Restoration’ Category

Well, it is at first.  Then again, at first, we are not addicted.  So when does addiction take it’s power over us?  How far into our habitual obsession do we need to go to see the decision making become automatic; into it’s predestined pattern?  

Yes, we have the power of choice.  We choose to experiment.  We choose to hang out and commune with the right people and the wrong people.  We have a decision making process which makes good choices and bad choices and we have to deal with the consequences either way.

We constantly hear of people, friends and family, overdosing and dying from substance abuse.  “Oh, they made a bad choice.  What were they thinking?  They chose that path; they made their bed now they have to sleep in it.”  I hear it all the time.  Usually from people who have never experienced addiction and the power it has over us.  People think it was our choice to suffer and become thieving junkies.  That first day when we experimented with our long term poison, we weren’t saying to ourselves, “I can’t wait to screw everyone over and destroy my life and every bridge I have ever walked across.”

Addicts made a choice one day to use.  We made a choice, for whatever reason; depression, stress, a loss, childhood trauma, whatever.  We chose to take a mental stimulus to impose happiness in one form or another.  We also chose to take a dip in it at the end of every stressful week.   Which became a couple times a week, to every other day, to every day.  Has addiction set up it’s scaffolding yet?  Not yet.

mhYqfi4Believe it or not, our minds are still at peace.  We are happy.  We’re feeling really good and enjoying the high.  It enhances our abilities and helps to see positively; it’s a new hope!  Well, that’s how it seems.  We don’t know whats going on yet.  As far as we are concerned, it’s just something we are doing, like brushing our teeth, with magical toothpaste.. we do that every day right?

sad-woman-silhouetteSome time goes by.  Something tells us we may have a slight problem so we try to stop.  We try and quickly realize life isn’t the same without this chemical.  Our thoughts change, our conscience tells us one thing and we compromise with another.  There is a mental battle going on between what is right and what is wrong.  What we used to spend time on, our priorities, important things, very important things, we no longer have a care for and become secondary.  Then we get depressed because we are trying but we are not able to choose.

Something either tells us or moves us to constantly feed this compulsive obsession.  It’s needed.  We persistently depend on it.  Now addiction has moved in and it is renting space we just don’t have.  It has become our engine, being fueled with chemicals.  It is the mainframe of our thinking, the electrical system for our thought process and like a cancer it grows and grows and surrounds our thoughts like a vine wrapped around a telephone pole.

Every choice and decision we make from here on is like flipping a coin.  We are lost in a maze with no solution; we have no idea how we got in and have no clue how to get out.  Integrity, motivation, self control, and happiness are all out the window.  Hope and faith are so far away we can’t even come up with any words to define them.  We are on a self centered path of destruction and we don’t care who or what is in the way.  Emotions and feelings are for the weak.  “Just give me what I want, please, I need one more…”, is a daily mission statement.  Scheming, lying, cheating and manipulating are now our new characteristics.  We are on auto pilot and we are so far in, well, lets just say it’s like a tunnel in the shape of a circle, it’s a vicious cycle of disappointment and regression.

Welcome.  This is drug addiction.  You can relate to this or you can relate this to someone you know.  Some of you may even be able to relate this with addictions other than drugs and substances; the thoughts and the obsession.

Choices and decisions are not of our own.  We are not thinking clearly.  We are lost.  We are addicts and in our addiction, getting high, fueling up, our doses, our outcomes and our thinking become compromised.  No quote card on a website is going to make us better.  We are under siege, we are being controlled by something else.  It’s not us.  It’s not a choice any more.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or drug addiction, there is hope.  Constantly offering help to a loved one is difficult and they may hate you for it, but when they come around, they will love you for it.
This is why there are detox and rehabilitation facilities nation wide.  There are people willing to offer help, resources and information on treatment for people struggling with addiction.  Call 888-831-2327 for a Treatment Center near you, anywhere in the United States, 24-7.

Most importantly, keep them in your prayers.  Do not give up on them. Pray to God Almighty that He intervenes and breaks their addictive behaviors and sets them free!

Become Free!  Become the Difference!

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This is a picture I drew while in rehab. I drew it with a BIC pen.

When I first got into rehab, I was confused and lost. I was dope sick. My mind was racing, I couldn’t sleep and all I could think about was myself and how I was going to get through this.

I’d say the first month was all about myself. I was literally losing my mind. I was shaking and my stomach had a mind of its own. Dope sick is the worst. My whole mind, body and spirit was aching. I wanted to leave but the little conscience I had left told me to stay and wait it out.

That month was a testing of many mental trials. It was all about me. Because of the way I was feeling, I was extremely selfish in my thinking and only wanted everything to benefit me. All I wanted was comfort of any kind and I didn’t get it. Well at least at that point, I thought I wasn’t getting it. I thought it was absolute torture. No one cared, no one loved me and no one wanted to help.

After that selfish first month of living without my poison running through my body, I realized that I WAS getting help and being comforted. I started becoming grateful for the place I was at. I was being fed. I had a bed to sleep in. I was getting counseling, I was being taught principles and I was being transformed into a clean human being again. Waking up was getting easier, sleep was getting better and my attitude was being adjusted. There was a slow metamorphosis happening, from selfish to benevolent.

I started doing things I used to like to do, on my free time, even to this day. One of them is drawing. Just whipping a pencil back and forth is fun. Something usually appears on the paper. I can draw fast and make a quick sketch or I can take my time and whip up a detailed drawing. Either way, I now have the ability to put my problems, my anxiety and my selfishness aside.

It’s the same with helping others. I talk with many people who are struggling with drug addiction and other habitual quirks. I stand strong in my recovery, knowing that I have a purpose and that it is not all about me. I have my life back and I thank God every day for the chance to go out and live a productive lifestyle.

During my stay at rehab, I got a chance to work at the front desk. It was kind of like my own little office. I answered the phones, completed new beneficiary intakes and basically was an assistant to all of the counselors and housemen. As the days went on, I saw people, lost, dope sick people, coming in and going through the same thing I went through. They were on a mission to benefit themselves. Some didn’t last long but the ones that made it to a few months began to change too. They got happiness and some of the void, which was filled with hopelessness, filled with hope and determination.

Many of the guys who had a few months of clean time began helping the newcomers. They shared their struggles along with the in’s and out’s of the program. Now that I think about it, I had a few guys help me out my first month. They guided me along and kept me afloat. It’s an awesome thing to be led and encouraged when you need it.

As I grow and as I watch others grow, I have come to an understanding of what a renewal of the mind is all about. Understanding that putting ourselves second, or even third, well, last for that matter, enables us to move forward, grow and help others. Staying Humble, remaining Teachable and being Grateful is the only way we are going to become who we are supposed to be. Putting effort in these three things keeps us at a level open for opportunity and blessings. Put God first, others second, your’SELF’ last and watch Him make a difference every where you go!

“Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

“He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.'” Matthew 18:1-5

What IS the Greatest 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.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30

Become Free. Become the Difference!

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Looking out the window of my flight made me realize how minute my problems were and made me grateful to be able to do the things I can do. There are so many things to be grateful for being in Recovery. Not being ENABLED but being ABLE!

I had a chance to visit my brother and his family out in Nebraska this month. I was able to work and pay for the plane tickets. I was able to stay there for a week and spend quality time with my niece and 5 nephews! My brother and I went out to the shooting range, we cooked a 10 pound rib eye over an open fire, watched movies and played video games with his kids. I am very grateful for being able to do all these things with a clear mind and being able to be a good example of what an uncle is and how an uncle should act.

The other day I had a chance to talk to a man who was asking for money in front of a Starbucks. He was homeless and reeked of alcohol. His mission was to get as much money as he needed for whatever his intentions were. I pulled him aside and told him I was going to give him 20 bucks if he would hear me out first…

I was able to tell him that I was once where he was. That I used to be a drug addict and that I know what it’s like to struggle and be a bottom feeder. I was able to tell him that he doesn’t have to live like this. That it’s never too late to turn his life around; to get help and surround himself with productive people. I was able to tell him that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. That because of Him, I am able to persevere in His Grace and live a better life. I was able to receive a handshake and a hug from this stranger. I was also able to understand him and not judge him because I was once where he is standing.

I was able to go to my mother’s home for Christmas Eve. I was able to pick up my grandmother and give her a ride to my mother’s and actually show up on time! I was able to spend time with my other brother and his family there and to enjoy great food. I was grateful to be able to give gifts to everyone and grateful not having to show up empty handed because I had to feed an addiction.

I was able to spend time with my dad on Christmas. I was able to make a picture collage of his kids and grandkids all in one frame and able to accept a thank you when he saw it and grateful he enjoyed it. I was able to go see a movie and get some Chinese food with him and have a good time.

These days, I am able to do just about anything. I’m able to have relationships which were once broken. I’m able to help others in need. I’m able to discuss my past and use it to set a good example. I’m able to save money and use it wisely. I’m able to put gas in my truck, to go food shopping and to pay bills. I’m able to live a productive life, a responsible life; a new life from my addictive and destructive past.

Most of all, I am able, and grateful, to be able to trust myself in everything I do and to thank God daily to be under His Grace, to be able to have this freedom. My past is disgusting. It makes me sick when I think of my old lifestyle. The things I used to do, the people I used to hurt, in order to satisfy my addictive obsession and desires.

Being able to do all these things this year strengthens me and makes me extremely grateful for where I am. I am so grateful for a God who forgives and blesses in abundance to someone who does not deserve it, and as small and as little the things I do have, they all feel huge, powerful and meaningful.

I am able to write this, hoping it will help someone to see that when we live life according to the Word of God, we change, we become different people, we yearn to separate ourselves from a life without Him. We need to realize that our addictive nature is not our destined path, that we have it in us to become free from addiction, from ourselves, from our physical and mental anguish, that our mind and soul can rest in the hands of our Savior!

I hope you have a great Christmas with your family and friends. Celebrate and give thanks every day! 😀

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“Sometimes God lets you hit rock bottom so that you will discover He is the Rock at the bottom.”- Dr. Tony Evans

Everyone’s rock bottom is different. There are mental and spiritual rock bottoms and there are physical rock bottoms. Bottoming out is not a pleasant place to be, at all. But somehow we put ourselves there, or did God put us there? Everything happens for a reason right? If you have purpose today then you know exactly what I’m talking about! Without purpose it is very hard to distinguish the reasons for our bottoming out.

I know for me, my rock bottom was an extremely dark place. It was a gloomy period in my life full of overcast and dismay. I didn’t get there quick either. It took many years of abusing drugs. Many years of being straight up ignorant and selfish. My rock bottom was me laying down on a bedrock of solid stone with no place to go. My enabler’s were gone. I was broke. I was sick, physically, mentally and spiritually. I was suicidal. No one wanted to be near me, no phone calls and no visits. I was a thief, a liar, a manipulator, a great schemer; a junky. I mean, who WOULD want to stay in contact with that?

Some of us have hit rock bottom, it’s the lowest place you can go being alive. It may be jail. It may be in an institution. It may be a place where you have limited options or limited choices. A place where you may never understand how and why. It may even be at home with your family, you got plenty of money and plenty of support around you but there is still this mental prison keeping you from expanding your horizons and moving forward. You may have bottomed out and you are not sure why.

I know right when we hit rock bottom, all hope seems to be gone. It’s a confusing state of mind. There seems to be no path to choose from. We trusted in a chemical and worked for it for so long to give us an euphoric outlook on life but there was no retirement plan. There were no paid vacations. No sick days. No stock options and no overtime. Drugs and alcohol did not come with a ‘Consequence of Use’ form. There were no guidelines on how to keep substance abuse at a ‘Minimum Rate’. There were no books written on how to be a ‘Controlled Addict’. Wow, is that an oxymoron or what, a controlled addict.

Rock bottom is the worst place to be but it gives a chance to start over. If you have been there, you know it was needed to get you to where you are today. It gave us a chance to see things in a whole new perspective. We may have learned the hard way but we grew from it. We started over, humbling ourselves and remaining teachable, opening our minds to accept a Higher Power and an understanding that our way does not work.

There is only one way from rock bottom and that is up! Everything around us which has purpose has once been useless. It was given purpose from a creator. Everything. Look around you. Your phone, your computer, your clothes, the fence in your back yard, the trees, houses… All useless materials until created for a purpose. Sometimes we need to become broken and useless in order to be used the correct way. We need to be emptied out, cleaned up and renewed. There is a purpose behind everyone’s rock bottom.

We do not have to stay at the bottom either. There are resources all around us to help us out of the pit. Reach out and ask for help. Take the steps needed today. Make your rock bottom a reminder and a gauge of a place not to live by but to learn by. Make your rock bottom the foundation on which you live your life. Become a purposeful asset today!

So did God ruin your life, or did He set you up for purpose? If you do not have an answer, it WILL be revealed one day!

Become Free! Become the Difference!

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You have probably heard this before, in movies or even from your friends who think they are ‘too tough’ for rehab. Or you may have heard this used as an innuendo for people ‘giving up’.

Well, rehab IS for quitters. People who want to quit their addiction. People who have given up living their reckless life. People who have chosen to do something about their substance abuse problem. Unfortunately, many rehab beneficiaries are stipulated to complete programs like this as a result of a judgment from drug court. It’s good and not so good. Good that they have an opportunity to learn and get better; not so good because they are forced there and many times they are not ready for any improvement.

But there are the few who show up at a rehabilitation center seeking help. The ones who are all out of gas and need a tow. The ones who have given up, shut up and humbled themselves to be open for teaching and open to new behavioral changes.

I was sick as a dog my first day at rehab. I went to a Salvation Army, Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC). And as good as I felt knowing and hoping I was going to get better, my body was not agreeing with me. I had stopped cold turkey off lots of opiates and only an addict knows what that is like, I need not explain!

The ARC is a Christian ‘working’ program. You have to work 40 hrs a week in the warehouse and you got a gratuity starting at a few bucks your first week. This program brought work ethic and money management back into my life, one of the many things you learn here. It was difficult the first 3-4 weeks. My body was withdrawing intensely off the drugs I was abusing for the past 10 years. But I eventually started to gain my strength back and learned why I did what I did for so long.

After working eight hours in the warehouse, they would feed us with very good sized, fatten me up, portions of food. They feed you very well! And after a short break to get cleaned up, it’s learning time.

The Salvation Army hosted great lectures, meetings and one-on-one’s with counselors that are extremely beneficial. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings were held a few times a week. It was so good to hear others talk about their issues as well as being surrounded by people of a common bond.

Most importantly, I got a chance to refine my spirit and being a Christian program, there were many chances to do so. I saw myself changing. I also saw many others changing too. We were given spiritual principles to live by, to learn from and to use for the rest of our lives. I learned so much about myself and why I did what I did. It was a great time for me. Me and another guy who I made friends with called it a ‘Spiritual Retreat’!

So in conclusion, you would think I lived happily ever after and it’s been smooth sailing, right? Wrong, I relapsed after 10 months and readmitted myself for another round. I actually completed the program twice, in the same year! (See Photo Above)

Again, I had a lot to learn! And it is possible to have fun while you learn. It was an experience I will NEVER forget. I have made many friends with whom I still keep in touch with. I also still keep in touch with many of the counselors as well.

I am, to this day, extremely grateful for the Salvation Army basically saving my life and grateful for the ones who shared their wisdom and insight and guided me along my journey.

If you are struggling and have no where to turn to, I encourage you to seek help, whether it be a detox, a rehab, or where ever you can go to receive help with your addiction. There are resources all around us, it’s up to you to make a choice.

Keep God first and He will use WHEREVER you are to help you make a difference in your life!

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

You have a purpose… Become Free! Become the Difference!

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See that tiny seed? It’s dead. It has no life. It’s useless.

It’s useless until it’s planter puts it into soil and with the right amount of water and sun, it will begin to grow. Do you know what that tiny seed’s purpose is? What it produces? What it grows into when planted and maintained? You would never guess what it has to offer. What it was designed to form into. Believe it or not, as dead as it is, it can still grow!

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It’s a Sequoia Tree or a Redwood Tree seed. And yes, it grows into a huge, strong and massive tree. The biggest tree on this planet! A powerful, well rooted, well planted tree. Amazing how something so small and dead becomes so magnificent. How something, once given a chance, given a purpose, can grow and become a solid, stable structure.

Did you know Paul, the author of just about half of the books in the New Testament, was an anti-Christian, a persecutor who had Christians put in jail, threatened them and approved their death? He hated Christians. Paul, who was named Saul prior to his life changing conversation with God, lived a life opposite of his revealed purpose. (Acts Chapter 9)

This guy went from hating people and wanting them dead to loving them and teaching them a new way of life. Here is an example of darkness becoming light. Someone useless becoming an important tool. A total role reversal. Paul became an important missionary for Christ and went around preaching the Gospel, confusing people who saw him as a persecutor. But he became strong and powerful proving to the people that Christ was indeed the Messiah.

Paul went on, persevering and teaching. However, he did have his ups and downs. He was thrown in prison for many years during his travels for preaching the Gospel. Even then, in prison, he continued writing to the people and encouraging them. He persevered through his hardships. In chains, staying positive and faithful.

Addiction takes its toll on us. Addiction sets us back and labels us. Our addiction destroys and leaves a nasty trail. It destroys relationships. It consumes us.

In addiction we are useless, we are dead. Nothing but an empty carcass being led by a desire to abuse drugs and abuse alcohol. Our only purpose is to self medicate and feed our SELF, that’s it.

That’s what addiction does. That’s what it wants you to believe. That you are worthless. But it’s not true. You DO have a purpose. You are worth something. You CAN make a difference! You DO have the ability to become steadfast, well rooted with a strong, solid foundation. You CAN turn from your past and become fruitful!

Become Free! Get the help you need today! Ask God to come into your life and to take the addiction away. It may take time, it may happen instantly. You may learn a lot about yourself, as I did. You may have to break a few walls holding you back. Just know it is in you to conquer this. You have it in you to persevere and to live a productive life. You have a lot to offer and you may one day change someone else’s life.

God IS listening, allow Him to plant you into good soil so you can produce and have a purpose! Continue and maintain in His Word daily and watch your life change!

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I found this toy in the dirt on a job I was on. We were digging dirt away from a foundation to expose some cracks in the foundation wall for mortar filling. It’s a Denmark toy from the 1950’s. In good condition it’s worth anywhere from 90 to 150 dollars.

But after removing some of the dirt. I realized it wasn’t restorable. The tires were missing, the cast metal frame was broken in areas and the interior was simply destroyed. Too bad, because it’s a rare item, and would have been worth something. It’s funny, I come across a lot of old jars and old toys that used to have life. That used to have meaning and a purpose. But all too often they are rendered useless due to the condition they are in.

My dad likes to go out to the beaches with his metal detector. He digs up some pretty cool things. One time, pretty recently actually, he was at the beach swinging away with his little beeping machine. A couple saw him and approached him in distress. “I lost my wedding ring!” says the wife of a concerned husband. And of course, my dad, who has the appropriate tool for the job, starts swinging left and right looking for it. Not too long after, he finds it, hands it to the wife and the couple lives happily ever after.

In this case, what was lost, was found. Still worth the same amount it was before it was lost… why? It didn’t have a chance to corrode. It didn’t have a chance to become deteriorated by its surrounding elements. It was strong enough to go through it’s little endeavor. That ring was lost for a very short time and was recovered. It’s purpose was reinstated. There was no loss.

I know for myself, my body definitely needed to recover from my many years of abusing Oxycontin. Railing cocaine from 8 at night to 8 in the morning. Sniffing what ever pill you had and I could find. Drinking myself into a lushified (not a word) state to attempt to reduce the depression. I abused my body, my mind and my soul. It took close to a year to recover and I thank God I am able to talk about it and share what I have gone through.

Unfortunately, not everyone battling with addiction gets to talk about their past. Not all addicts make it through the storm. I have lost a handful of friends to substance abuse in this past year alone. It’s horrible. Each one of them came to their own conclusion. Each one chose to fuel themselves to the point of self destruction. They didn’t get a chance to become restored. They corroded too quickly. The elements engulfed them. Their mind, body and soul were compromised. What they were; strong, intelligent, courageous, adventurous… was quickly brought to an end. Their purpose was consumed. They were brought to a level where they could not be restored.

If you are reading this, you or someone you know has a chance to become restored. It’s not too late. Becoming restored takes time and perseverance. Restoration involves cleaning. Fixing what is broken. Installing new parts that are missing. Refinishing the surface. Rebuilding the internal components. Revitalizing, rehabilitating, reconstructing and so on.

If you have breath, you have a chance at a whole new life. A life where you do not have to live broken down and corroded.
That toy car I found had lost its value. You have it in you to gain your value. Do not let yourself go and lose your purpose. Do not give up! Become restored through the One who is calling you! Feeling like a ton of bricks is on your back? Like you’re surrounded by dirt and can’t get out? Feeling weathered and beat up, have no strength to move on? Feel like a beat down, worn out, useless piece of junk? WELL YOU’RE NOT.

Become free, become renewed, restored through Jesus Christ. The Way, the Truth and the Life.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16.
Yes, a popular verse and a very important one. It’s about restoration. About not wasting away. Becoming new.
Another relevant verse is “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17.
You mean if I just accept Christ in my heart, I become a new creation, just like that? Yes! Just like that! It’s free, no one is going to call you for additional sales pitches, no “hey, not only will you get a new life, you also get a chance to get a new car!”, none of that.

I know for me, God has been calling me for years. I used to dip my toes into the water, but never just jumped right in. Today, I’m swimming… come on in!

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:10