From Junkie to Substance Use Disorder

Just look at him, he’s a Junkie!

What is the image that is conjured up?

For me, it’s a malnourished, dirty person, slumped over with used needles laying around him in the gutter of a city, side street. I grew up in the 70’s and this was what was portrayed on T.V. so this is my immediate thought image when someone says, “junkie.”  Maybe you too have the same picture going? This person is a derelict with no future and a menace to society. One might say; “Whatever happens to him, he’ll get what he deserves…”

She’s a drug addict!

What is the image now?

Maybe not so different; a run down house full of food and drink trash, a couple of people strung-out… jobless and pan handling… maybe a neglected child roaming around. While these scenario’s may be realistic in some situations, they are not necessarily the primary presentation in life these days.  Regardless, one might say, “Once an addict, always an addict“… as if that is the whole identity of this person.

I believe the reaction produced in the onlooker using one of these terms is one of disdain, disgust, and avoidance.

Words matter when we are talking about people who suffer with addiction. Terms like junkie, addict, user, or abuser have the tendency to draw negative images and thoughts about, and towards, the person afflicted. It fully places the blame of their condition on their behavior and lack of self control. Period.

I confess, when I found out my son was self-medicating and misusing drugs, I was hard pressed not to think of these images in regard to my own son.  How can this be! Not my son! Not my family!  The images and stigma attached to these words bred fear and denial and kept me from seeking help sooner, for him, and for me.

Even as I published the post, What it felt like to watch my Son become an Addict, I confess I used the term Addict to grab attention because it is the familiar and popular term used these days. And, because it is the term often used even by those who struggle with addiction themselves: “Hi my name is Bob and I am a recovering addict” – the mantra at every support group meeting. I stand corrected, the more I research and learn.

The words we use need to change with the knowledge we now have about the disease of addiction.

My son suffered from a chronic brain disorder and he misused drugs as a way to try and help himself through pain and suffering on a variety of levels. Genetically, he was also predisposed to this disease. All it took was one smoke, one drink, one snort, alongside his broken predisposed brain, and he was both lured and overpowered by the disease of addiction which kept him from being able to make wise choices, a lot of the time.

“My son suffers with substance use disorder

What is the image now?

I believe this creates the image of a person battling a medical condition and produces the reaction of compassion.

Stigmatizing words need to be eradicated; They injure the person afflicted with the disease of addiction with a sense, or identity, of worthlessness and can cripple the ability of the family and the afflicted to seek and receive help when it is most needed.

Change is hard. But, as a culture, we must do it in order to save lives!

Every life matters because each of us has been created by a merciful and loving God; all lives are worthy of compassion and kindness and care because we are His created children.

So I challenge you to love those who are afflicted with addiction,

have compassion on them and use terms that correctly describe their illness and suffering so that they may see themselves worthy of help and seek it;

that others may treat them with respect and dignity while helping them;

and that you dear reader,

may do everything in your power to spur them on towards healing and a better quality of life.

 

 

Which came first? The Chicken or the egg?

Which came first? The Chicken or the egg?

A classic, arguable question that can be easily answered if one looks to the Word.  On the fifth day, God created “every winged bird according to its kind.” Genesis 1:21b. So, there you have it – he did not create all the eggs to hatch, but he created the winged bird first.

Who should reach out first when an offense has been made?

A tough question, but also easily answered if one looks to the Word.  Since the days following creation, God has been offended throughout history.  Yet, in love, He reached out with his Son, Jesus; John 3:16 explains – “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only Son…” – Why? So that all the offenders, of God the Father, could be forgiven and given the ability to go to heaven and have eternal life.  John 3:17 tells us what Jesus was NOT given for: with grace, “God did not send his Son into to the world to condemn the world, but to save the world.

God reached out first and that’s what we ought to do also…in love and in grace.

What kind of picture would humanity be in if God waited for the offenders (us) to reach out to him before he gave his only Son to die?  I know God would still be waiting, because we are naturally a stubborn people, and there would be no hope in this life. But no, and thank God, He did not wait.  HE LOVED US FIRST is what 1 John 4:19 tells us. Not because we deserved it, but because God is mercy.

“We love, because he first loved us.”

There you have it – We, who have been offended, must reach out first in love and in grace and offer continual love and mercy to the one who maybe doesn’t deserve it.

In this action, HOPE will prevail and relationships will be healed, as our broken humanity is healed through the blood & sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  May this New Year be a year of healing broken relationships:  between you and God, and between you and others, in love, grace, and mercy.

New Year Resolution: in HIS face!

 

CORAM  DEO

This is what I aim to stand on as far as a New Year resolution for 2018.

CORAM DEO = in the face of God; meaning ….. whatever I do,

  ….. whatever I say,

is in the face of God – done before Him in full view.

If I claim this one Latin phrase, all the change and goodness that I may desire for my life this coming New Year will then come forth.  If I consider every action & every word spoken is done with Jesus standing right before me, seeing and listening, cuz He is…omniscient and all… there is nowhere I can hide where He is not already there… then I hope that my choices of actions and words will be sifted out and carefully considered before I reveal them.

In essence – my goal is to please the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

In this, I will hope to love as I have been loved, accept as I have been accepted, forgive as I have been forgiven, and get ready to be filled with the JOY & HOPE that will spring up!

Like Robin William’s once stood up proclaiming, Sieze the day!

 I stand up and say: CORAM DEO!

Will you join me?

I wish for each of you, a God Blessed New Year 2018 ahead!

 

 

I Seem to Have an Elephant Sitting on My Chest

 

I seem to have an elephant sitting on my chest – or so that’s what it feels like in my brain when I try to think what to say or write these days.

It has been months since I posted on this blog.

Does it even matter, I ask myself.

What do I have to say that hasn’t already been said?

Truth is: N O T H I N G.

Honestly, I began this venture of blogging because I wrote a book.  Forty-nine years of living and raising children and fighting the good fight, and then, I stayed up late for three months and wrote a book, and it was published three months later.  Not the usual progression, yet this is the way God paved the way for me and so, I had this book and I needed a platform (i.e. a place to connect with readers) to sell my book. Thus this site was born. I wrote, I sold some books and now, five years later,  I stumble around in my melancholy mind for words, like the proverbial writer who stares at the blank paper on a typewriter.

And, I mostly give my books away as an offering of help, from one to another.

Is this what God intended when he paved the way for me to be published?

The thing is, I am a bit of a hypocrite. My brain knows and imparts right information and advice, yet sometimes, I do not even live my own words. I have even been known to tell myself, Sheryl, you should read your own book; read your own blog; listen to your own lecture; take your own advice!

The problem is, that I forget; we forget. We are a forgetful people.

The word LOVE / the message of LOVE appears in the Bible between 300 to 500 times, depending on which version you read. I think God  knows for certain that we are a forgetful people; and so, He brings up topics over and over in different ways so that the message is eventually and hopefully heard.

And so, I fail.

Don’t we all?

I have forgotten that I am me, created by my heavenly Father, and loved.

Maybe what I have to say isn’t new.

Maybe posting on my blog doesn’t really mater.

But,

What matters is, that I share the Truth and Love of Jesus in whatever venue is available to me.

What venue has God has opened for you?

Join me in pushing that elephant off!

Stop staring at the proverbial blank page of life and opportunity before you and speak, share, and love others around you by proclaiming the Name of Jesus and His LOVE.

Dear reader, 

You are loved – today and always by a most loving and merciful Father.

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3

 

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmas

I have not sent out any cards yet.

This is the first one – the first MERRY CHRISTMAS written this year.

Recall the famously known prophecy, even Charlie Brown’s Linus recited it: ” For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

For “to us”…. repeated twice. Us, meaning all – everyone – no one left out!

To all of us, a child, a son, is given. 

THIS is the MERRY CHRISTMAS: baby Jesus born in the manger – deity, God, made human – for to us.

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Not for the idyllic creche decorations to don the mantels…

Not for the theme of Sunday school plays so the girls can be angels and the boys can play shepherds with cotton beards…

But, for to us, with a purpose: “and the government will be upon his shoulders.”  

What?

Picture this: our government, the United States government, and every other world nation government stacked up on the shoulders of this Jesus like Atlas carrying the world….the image that He holds it all, He carries it all…. BUT – unlike Atlas, Jesus…. He rules over it all.  The prophecy from Isaiah points to a time when the full purpose of Jesus is revealed and His government rules over all governments.

Fast forward to another famously known verse, the one that people raise up in the football stands: John 3:16 — “he gave his one and only son” – the verb, gave, is the action and points to the cross where Jesus died. Just like the story, If you give a Mouse a Cookie, one thing leads to the next.  Jesus died, so that he could be buried, so that he could rise from the dead, so that he could appear to many – alive, so that he could ascend to the heavens and sit at the right hand of the father, God, so that he could await for his return to the earth and save his people,

so that finally – HIS pure government will rulethere will be no other governments left.

But for now… He rules from heaven and nothing on earth happens unless power is given it by God – the government is on His shoulders, and He rules even now, over it all.

Jesus is Wonderful — because He does great things with love…

Jesus is Counselor — because he guides and directs even those who do not know Him because He is sovereign and in charge of it all…

Jesus is Mighty God — because there is no one who holds more power…

Jesus is Everlasting Father — because He and the Father are one, always existing, timeless, having no end…

Jesus is Prince of Peace — because he came to earth as a baby, died as a man, and defeated death as a King, all for the purpose of offering us PEACE in a place where there will be no more tears, just peace, forever.

Jesus in the manger, came for everyone!

Jesus on the cross, died for everyone!

Jesus in heaven, loves everyone!

Merry Christmas to you all – everyone who breathes air on this earth!

Borrowing the words of Charles Dickens: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSyx6DaUwxA

What is it that Fills your Darkness?

Accept support.  Stick to the plan.  Stay vulnerable.  Trust God.

BUT

Even still…Darkness seeps in like fog curling and swirling, pushed by the wind, wrapping it’s tendrils around the anchors yanking them up and out. Doubt, and fear, and tangible offenses like nausea, burns, nosebleeds, and pain of various origins fills my darkness.

What is it that fills your darkness?

As the seeping continues, I find I have to make a decision. Do I focus on the darkness or do I focus on the light?  Poor-little-old-me parties tauntingly invite me to focus on the darkness and curse it.  Yet, the light offers me rest, healing, and peace through thankfulness.

Friend, it’s all about attitude.

“I realized that the way to attaining joy and rejoicing in my sufferings was to have a heart of thanksgiving.  Through the offering, the sacrifice of thanksgiving, I entered into relationship with God Himself.” (p. 92 Towdah)

Thank God for all He has done and will do for you, even before you see or experience it; trust Him for it all.  That is “Towdah!”

“On May 22, 2011, I sat still and thanked God for my cancer.” (p 93 Towdah)

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How could I do that you might ask?

By keeping my eyes on Jesus and seeing Him in all the glory that He is;

He sacrificed His life for mine and He lives, now, to assure me, carry me, and offer me salvation fully.

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16

Friend, THANK the LORD through the trial – no matter what trial it is that has you undone.

“…he who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.” Psalm 50: 23

Thank God for it all – the good, the bad, and the ugly…and you will be renewed.  You will be shown salvation in the fullest sense!

What is it that fills your darkness?

Turn. Instead, fill it with Thanksgiving and you will unfurl those dark tendrils and

You will be IN the light!

4 Anchors for a Tiny Sailboat

This is where I left you last Thursday, promising to give you an answer…

“What is fair anyway?”

Truth be told – the answer is: N O T H I N G.

“Life isn’t fair – get use to it.”

Don’t you hear your mother’s voice echoing in your head, as I do?

Someone will always get the bigger cookie first, the longest turn on the swing, the better card in the game.

Yet,

when we get the biggest cookie, the longest turn on the swing, or the winning card in the game – — do we still exclaim, “It’s not fair?”

Of course not.

Suddenly the path of the exclamation goes from “Why me?” to “Why not me!

It’s all a matter of perspective.

Why did I have to get cancer? I do not know…but, why not me?  I am not above the perils of this world.

Four anchors held me as my life, like a tiny sailboat, tossed violently in the stormy sea of a dark trial. 

One: Accept Support.

Hand in hand, we opened the door and stepped out into the brazen sunlight, neither knowing what lay ahead.” (p. 6 Towdah)

Do you have support? Do not try to go it alone.  Call on your closest loves in life and let them hold your hand.  My aunt, who battled against cancer for nearly 12 years, told me, “No matter what, always let people help you, for if you deny them the opportunity, you squash the Spirit working in them and you lose out on a blessing.”

Two:  Stick to the Plan.

With a battle, there is a plan – always.  And once a plan is in place, everything seems doable.  Stick to it and fight with everything you’ve got!

Medically: follow through with the treatment plan.

Spiritually: pray; “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well;”

Three: Stay Vulnerable

“Without words, I drew close…Tears once again began to flow…Emotions gave way with an ever so gentle explosion of sighs and tears.”(p.34 Towdah)

Keep it real my friend. Embrace your humanness.

Four: Trust God.

There is a choice to make.  You can be swallowed up by fear or you can be cradled by trust. Seems a no-brainer to choose trust – I mean, who wants to be swallowed up! The next question then, is who do  you trust?  Entering the unknown territory of this trial, I put my trust in God as Joshua did.  Cancer, disease, sudden loss bring unknown territory and it is scary.

“Like a child, holding the father’s hand, I couldn’t bear it anymore and I turned with anxious asking, ‘Pick me up Daddy! I’m scared.’ ” (p. 30 Towdah)

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Accept support.  Stick to the plan.  Stay vulnerable.  Trust God.

 

 

Two responses to the Big Bang

Ever experienced the BIG BANG in your life?

You know, the explosion of events that takes you totally by surprise – the kind of thing that changes your life in an instant and threatens the comfort of everything held to the routine of daily living?

For me, it was the pronouncement in a doctor’s office that I had cancer.  For you, maybe the same — or something different — an accident, a sudden death, another kind of disease…?  No matter which BIG BANG changed your life in an instant, I believe we all go through similar universal stages of experience.

The first stage I experienced seemed to have 2 steps.

First: SHOCK.

The kind that makes your jaw drop, renders you speechless, and causes you to drop what you are holding, or fall back against a wall, or collapse all together.

“I couldn’t even be sure if I was still breathing. In fact, I am sure I was not. I was frozen – suspended as if above all concept of time.”  (Towdah p. 5)

That was my initial response. And it is a normal first reaction for all of us.

Second: INDIGNATION.

That’s a big word for – IT IS NOT FAIR!

“…heaving great spasmodic breaths, gasping for air in my voiceless cries….I was weeping and gnashing my teeth as I drooled and bit my pillowcase in the silent darkness of the night, when no one else was awake.” (Towdah p 13)

And I wailed, Why me LORD? Why Me!

I mean – really?  Who ever expects to have the Big Bang explode on them! Right?

It isn’t fair.  OR ….is it?

What is fair anyway?

sad face

Yes, shock and indignation are quite normal human responses because we are forgetful.  We forget that we are not in control; God is.  We live our lives planning the next day and the next day to be as we want, assuming nothing will go awry, prideful because we believe we are in charge.  That is why we are caught unaware when the Big Bang explodes in our face.  Yes, we forget that God is bigger than any Bang – big or small; that God is in charge.  He knows all and still loves us; He always has.

Friend, are you experiencing shock or indignation, crying out that it is not fair in reaction to something in your life right now?

Take comfort and know, that Jesus loves you right now and He will keep loving you right through this difficulty.

I know.

I have been there.

Follow me to my next post and I will answer that question, “What is fair anyway?” 

 

 

“5 Year Clean” Anniversary

Like a marathon runner stepping over the finish line, I have reached the “MARK” – and the medical field supposes I can breath easy now – I made it!

I am enjoying my  “5 Year Clean” Anniversary season!

CLEAN & CLEAR of detectable CANCER!

WOO- HOO!

This is what every cancer survivor hopes to do –

step over the numbered-year-mark that science says gives you the highest likelihood that you will not have a return of the cancer.

So here I am.

I have arrived.

Now what?

In anniversary fashion, I  am taking a look back to see from where I came.

The journey was unexpected – nothing I would ever have chosen.

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When God says He has a plan for each one of us, none of us imagines that the plan might include cancer.

Yet, mine did.

I never imagined that I would write a book either; but God included that in the plan for me as well.

This is how it happened:

I got Cancer. I endured and survived horrible treatments. I sat down to write about my experience, in hopes to give “my story” to my family, members who may or may not know the God who carried me through.  So, I had a few friends proof read it, to make sure I kept out any Christian-jargon, so it was understandable to all.  One friend said,
“More people need to read this.”

With some awkward disbelief, I said, “Really?”

Meanwhile, months previous, a few of my close friends bought me a ticket and took me on a cruise to celebrate the end of my treatments! (I never expected that as part of God’s plan for me either!)  As we boarded the ship, and checked in, the last check point person asked me,

“Do you have an appointment with an editor?”

I said with a laugh, “No, but how do I get one?”

I was told that you had to book one when you bought your ticket…..but if I wanted to check back after check-in was over, I could see if someone didn’t show up. I chuckled to myself and said, okay — like who doesn’t show up for a cruise!  For laughs – I came back – and lo and behold – ONE person did not show up – and so they gave me the editor’s meeting.  This was for a 15 min. block of time to show the designated editor your stuff.  As this was unexpected, I had not even one line written to show – all my pages were at home.  Nonetheless, empty handed I went.  And since I was the last meeting on the schedule – I could stay and chat with this expert editor as long as I wanted.  She gave me 45 minutes of her precious time.  Keep it authentic, was the take-away for me.

Yup – this was part of God’s plan for me too.

Simultaneously, as I arrived home from the cruise, another proof reading friend said,

“I know a publisher that would like to read your manuscript; she said just to send it to her”

I sent it.

Tracy Ruckman, then publisher of Write Integrity Press/Pix-N-Pens, called 2 weeks later, and said she wanted to publish my book.

This journey too, was unexpected — nothing I had set out to do.

Wham!

Wham!

Wham!

That is the sound of God throwing open the doors to my adventure in becoming a published author.

God did it.

He planned it.

And it was awesome!

Towdah, A Cancer Survivor’s Song of Hope was published in 2012.

Over the next several weeks, I am going to share what God did for me so that perhaps you may be encouraged to persevere and hold tight to God’s hand through whatever trial of suffering you are enduring.  God planned this all for me –

so that I could be used by Him,

to share His love with you!

Follow my next several posts if you want to hear authentic telling of my suffering and my awesome God!

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

 

God’s Plan = Trump is President

Bold, yet true.

God’s Plan = Trump is President.

…and, if Clinton had won the election, the same could’ve been said.

God was, is, and will always be, in control of all things. The outcome of this election did not surprise Him. Nothing surprises Him.

In fact, He allowed Trump to win.

And because God is in control over all rulers and authorities, take comfort in knowing, that Trump can do nothing that God does not allow.

Our government can do nothing that God does not allow.

Just look at the conversation between Jesus and Pilate.  Likewise, Trump cannot bring this country down, or make it great again,

unless God gives the “go-ahead!”

So do not fear.

Now is the time to trust in God.

Now is the time to keep on praying for our Nation.

Friends, it begins with us. We need to get right with God in our own lives, and love others.

We need to do God’s will ourselves...

And what is that?

Rejoice. Pray. Give Thanks.

We need to obey God ourselves

This morning, a FB friend posted a question, steeped with some frustration, wondering:

“what to say to the passionate, idealistic, and thoughtful young women in my classroom this morning.”

And I said:

“Say: God is in Control and He loves us.”

Because that’s the bottom line.

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God loves us & He will work it all out for our best.

Here’s the real question today: “Do you love Jesus?”

For most reading my words here today, I believe the answer is yes.  To you, I just speak in truth, as Paul did,

to remind us of the focus of our hearts – cuz we are a people that forget.

To you, dear reader, who may not have considered Jesus before, I encourage you to consider.

Consider the Truth.

Jesus loves you.

Will you love Him back?