Proverbs 31:8

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Proverbs 31:8


There are many out there who have been paralyzed by fear. They are afraid to speak up, to tell others of their habits, their addictions. Family members who are ashamed of their loved ones or are worried the neighbors will judge them if they knew. It’s my mission to speak for those people. The addicts, the family members, the community.
I recently was able to hear Seth Haines, a recovering alcoholic, speak. He said we must “change our response to addiction” and that’s exactly what I’m doing here, with My Brother’s Keeper. I’m sharing our story in hopes that someone else will find the courage and strength to share theirs. I can’t wait to read Seth’s book, Coming Clean: A Story of Faith. Check it out here.
 
Another speaker I heard was Rebekah Lyons. She said, “You cannot heal what is hidden.” How powerful are those words?! If we don’t speak about our problems and the problems of others, we can never heal. I see this as speaking out about the stigma surrounding addiction. If we don’t speak up about it, for those afflicted in one way or another, how will we ever even begin to solve these heartbreaking problems?
Today, I ask that you speak up.
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May the good Lord bless and keep you…til we meet again.
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Life is Hard.

It’s been a couple weeks since I’ve last posted. A lot has happened in that time. We decided on which contractor to use to build our garage, driven at least five different vehicles to decide which one to buy (haven’t yet!), MOPs started, soccer started,  I took a leap of faith on an opportunity, and my brother came home from his fourth and hopefully final treatment facility.

To say I’m a bit overwhelmed is an understatement. I suffer with anxiety and depression, myself, and the last week I’ve been slipping into a major anxiety attack. On the way home from my aunt’s house Friday night, my husband and I were in a deep discussion about all the decisions on our plate. I expressed my concerns and fears. It was actually a wonderful conversation, especially because my brother was in the backseat. We dropped him off, got home and crawled into bed. I immediately sent him a text message. It went like this:

Me: “I’m sure you heard us discussing everything on the way home…life doesn’t necessarily get easier…there’s a lot of difficult decisions to be made and considerations. I’m really struggling lately…I just want you to know that you’re not alone with any depression and/or anxiety you feel…mine is thru the roof!!! Adulting sucks but we gotta do it!”

Him: “I was listening. It was good to hear you guys working through it positively.”

Me: “Trying to! Glad to have you back. I hope you’re feeling better and more positive about things!”

Him: “Oh I am. Just ready to get things moving. Good to be back bruh.”

Me: “Trust in God’s timing. Love you little brother. See you in the morning. Goodnight.”

I hope that conversation sticks with him. He has a lot of life changes coming up, too. I just pray he will make the right decisions, especially when it comes to his sobriety. It’s good to have him back home. I’m excited to see where God leads him…and where God leads me, too, for that matter.  Life is hard but we’re not alone.

Don’t think this is the end, there’s far more to our story, both before and after. I’ll continue to share and I hope you continue to follow along. Wherever you are in your journey, whatever battle you’re dealing with, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

May the good Lord bless and keep you…til we meet again.

 

 

International Overdose Awareness Day

Today was Overdose Awareness Day. It is so sad that this day even exists but I pray you take a few minutes and think about what this says. You might not agree with the user but they are still someone’s family. Someone’s son, daughter…brother.

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If you think your friend or family member might be using heroin, prescription pills or other combinations that carry a higher overdose rate, there might not be much you can do to prevent it but if you act promptly, you could save a life. Get familiar with the symptoms of overdose. Prepare yourself. If you are concerned with legal issues stemming from calling for help, research the Good Samaritan Law in your state.

So much more I could say…that I want to say. Just know that the epidemic is real and it’s still right here. Addiction doesn’t discriminate, so don’t think for a second your family is too “good”, too “wealthy”, not “trashy” or whatever preconceived idea you might have about what a drug addict looks like. Just be aware and show a little compassion for ALL those involved…because you probably have no idea the hell they are going through…both the family and the addict. 

May the good Lord bless and keep you…til we meet again.

 

 

Invest in the best third…

On Sunday, my mom and I visited my brother at his treatment facility. Yes, this last Sunday, in August 2016, a year and a half after our journey began. My brother is currently in his fourth treatment facility. A lot has happened since his release from the first one, but I’ll get to that later; right now I want to share this awesome little nugget I heard this week while it’s still fresh in my mind.

During our family group session, my brother’s counselor was asking if we had any questions or anything we wanted to discuss. One mother raised her hand and asked something along the lines of, “What do you do when people are judging and talking about you and your child?”

He said you can easily break down those in your life into thirds. A third of the people won’t really care either way what’s going on with you. They are indifferent. Another third will judge you, no matter what you do. Nothing will ever be right. The last third will genuinely care about you. Invest your time and energy into them.

His response really stuck with me and I hope it sticks with you, too. The next time you get discouraged or upset with someone, think about which one of those three categories they fall into…and choose to invest in the best third.

Stop worrying about people that aren't worried about you.

May the good Lord bless and keep you…til we meet again.

It isn’t an excuse, though.

Ya know that whole, “there’s nothing so bad you’ve done…” thing I was just talking about in the last post??? Well, it’s true. There isn’t anything that you’ve done so bad that would make God love you any less, but it isn’t an excuse to continue to live in sin. While He doesn’t expect us to be perfect (after all, that’s impossible), He does expect us to make a conscious effort to live a better life, make better choices.

My brother spent about six weeks in the first treatment facility and I visited him at least once, if not twice, a week. Most of the visits required us to participate in a family therapy session. Here we learned about how the disease (it is a disease, contrary to some belief, but that’s another post) affects the family unit, ways to help the addict adjust to a “normal” life, and how to prepare ourselves for a relapse. Unfortunately, relapse is all too often part of the process. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, between 40-60% of addicts will relapse*. While I wish I could say my brother wasn’t part of that statistic, we quickly learned he was.

He seemed to be doing better, but he had been begun dating a girl he met in the rehab facility. Red flag. I mean, it’s great if they can support each other but recovery alone is hard enough without throwing in a relationship. I received a phone call from my aunt on another Monday morning, with news I didn’t want to hear. She had heard through the grapevine that my brother had overdosed and been taken to the hospital a week before. I thought back on the conversations with my parents and brother, and didn’t think it was actually possible, but it was. Apparently, my brother and his girlfriend ran into the guy he had used with in the past and were able to get their hands on the drugs. His girlfriend had never tried it before and for some odd reason, she wanted to…even after hearing all the horror stories in rehab (this is sometimes a common occurrence, as addicts/alcoholics see the “glamour” in using rather than the negatives).

She had overdosed and my brother began to, as well. The drug dealer called 911 and bolted. I’ve never met this kid but from everything I’ve seen and heard, I don’t like him. That said, I’m extremely thankful he made that call or who knows what would have happened. My brother was awake by the time the EMTs got there but they still took him to the hospital to be treated and released. That was in May 2015, just a very short month after he completed the program at the first rehab facility.

When this nightmare began, I was extremely naive. I honestly thought my brother would conquer those demons and we would carry on with life. I was wrong. My brother’s relapse didn’t cause God to love him any less, though I’m sure it pained Him to see my brother destroying his life…even more than it pained us.

IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT YOU'VE DONE, WHAT MATTERS IS WHAT YOU CHOOSE TO DO FROM HERE.

 May the good Lord bless and keep you…til we meet again.

 

*https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery

Better Than I Deserve…

There’s a gentleman who calls into work every so often and when politely asked how he is, he replies, “Better than I deserve, believe it or not.” I mean EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. It’s somewhat become a joke in the office and it usually drives me crazy but just this week I decided it’s a nice reminder.

When I was in college, I made a lot of poor decisions. I know a lot of people do, but I honestly feel like I tested fate a few times. I was drinking on a regular basis, experimenting with drugs, and my bed partners changed more times than I’d like to admit. It made me feel important, popular, loved. The rush I felt when people would yell my name as I walked into a room. The excitement of seeing my phone light up with random text messages from guys I barely knew. Those empty promises made me feel special, they gave me a false sense of security. I was trying to fill a void.

One warm evening in May, my junior year of college, I decided to over indulge and walk around my apartment complex, making my way to the 3rd floor of the neighboring building. Why, you ask? Because they had the window open and I could hear them enjoying themselves inside. I took it as an invitation. After I surely made a fool of myself to these strangers, I started my descent. When I got to the second floor, I tripped and tumbled down a flight of stairs, face planting on the rough concrete below. Though I didn’t feel the pain that night, it was certainly there the next day, accompanying a huge bruise on my behind and some nasty road rash on my cheek. Honestly, I’m surprised I didn’t break an eye socket or something. The worst part (or so I thought) was that I had to start a new job just a day or two later. Talk about embarrassing. I’m pretty sure I made up some story about how I was carrying laundry or something and fell down the stairs…I doubt they believed me.

Like I said, I thought that was the worst part, but it wasn’t. Almost ten years later, while visiting my brother in his treatment facility he reminded me of one small detail I had forgotten from that night: he was there. My sixteen year old, impressionable brother was staying the night with me and I decided to take him to my neighbor’s party, leave him at said party, and meander to the neighboring building where I proceeded to fall down those stairs. When he brought it up, I was mortified. The fact that he was there that night had totally slipped my mind. I didn’t recall it at all…and, to be honest, I still don’t remember it in much detail, but my brother does. It was that moment when I realized how much my actions can affect others.

It broke my heart to know my brother saw me like that but I can’t say I was surprised. I had a tendency to treat my brother like he was much older than he was: buying him booze a time or two and smoking marijuana with him on numerous occasions. In Al-Anon and other support groups for families of addicts and alcoholics, you learn that you can’t control other people and you can’t take the blame for their actions. While I know I didn’t cause my brother to pick up the needle, I do feel partially responsible for his lack of self-respect; after all, he had seen me, his older sister, treat myself terribly time and time again.

I guess where I’m going with this is that I’ve done a lot of bad things, too. I’ve made poor decisions that have affected not only my life, but the lives of those around me. I’ve come a long way since my college days but I still suffer the consequences and still feel the guilt. When I think about all of that, it’s hard to comprehend why God would still love me, but I know He does, no matter how many times I’ve messed up. No matter how many times I’ve fallen in the past and will continue to fail in the future, God loves me. There’s nothing so bad that I’ve done that could ever change that. The same goes for my brother and for YOU, too. There’s nothing you’ve done that God won’t forgive, if you just ask him.

With all my past mistakes, I certainly don’t deserve my many blessings in life, but because God loves me and sent His Son to die on the cross for my sins, I am blessed beyond measure. So, the next time I get asked how I’m doing, maybe I should respond, “Better than I deserve, believe it or not.”

You can never be

May the good Lord bless and keep you…til we meet again.

 

God Will Make a Way

Every so often we sing this song by Don Moen at church. I’ve always liked the song but, to be honest, I kind of thought it sounded a little cheesy…the version we use, at least. A little 80s sounding, but I just looked it up – it came out in 1990, so that makes sense! Anyway, music has always been my favorite form of worship. I feel God move more when I’m lifting my voice to Him than any other time.  

My favorite part of the song says:

God will make a way, where there seems to be no way. He works in ways we cannot see. He will make a way for me.

Sometimes we pray and pray and it doesn’t seem like God is doing anything. We forget He works in His time, not ours. And just because we’re not seeing the results WE want, when we want them, doesn’t mean He isn’t hearing us.

On those days, when we’re struggling, He’s working on great things for us – just like that first week when we were unable to secure a safe place for my brother. God made a way, where there seemed to be no way. He continues to do so…not only in my brother’s life, but in mine, too. And I pray He makes a way for you! Just remember, He works in His time, so be patient and trust that He has great plans for you!


May the good Lord bless and keep you…til we meet again.