Monday, November 28, 2011

Scriptures of Recovery James 1:2-4

James 1:2-4 - "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking of anything."
I used to be very ungrateful. I felt that life was a chore at best, and punishment for being born at worst. I was generally not in the best of moods, as most of my peers and co-workers would gladly inform you. I was a bummer to be around most of the time. I was this way due to my viewing life as a punishment for being born. That was how I actually felt most days.

To work through this, I did my best to remain drunk all of the time. The only exception was while I was working, and for many years until I began the job that I have now even being on the clock never stopped me. In my drug using days, I would bring meth with me to work. You know, just in case I started to come down.  I would also bring the other drugs I was doing at the time. I remember bragging once after a double that I had pushed my crack pipe two dozen times and gotten a hit every time.

That was my life, stay high and drunk. The only purpose for living is so that we may one day die and that will be the end of it. There in a nutshell was how I personally lives when I was an Agnostic, which I was from 5th grade until I was 37. When I had problems in my life, they occurred simply because life sucked......then you died. I saw death as the end of suffering.

I can remember seeing the faces of my friends after they died and being jealous of how peaceful they looked. The only reason that I refused to commit suicide was because my sister had found me unconscious after a failed attempt and I promised her I would never try it again. That said, I wished for death and tried to put myself in situations where others would kill me. I was unsuccessful at even that.

Now I live my life differently. I have come to realize several things, and this scripture is a large part of why my perception has changed. I no longer feel that what happens to me are horrific things with no purpose. It took some knowledge for me to realize what the purpose were. To realize the reason things happened to me I had to get busy living instead of busying myself with the act of dying.

Know I know that I needed to learn lessons, and every trial and tribulation that I have gone through in life has made me a wiser and stronger person once I learned to work through it. This has in turn given me the ability to have compassion and empathy for my fellow man that I would not have had otherwise. It has also given me the wisdom I need to empower others to work through their issues that are similar that I would have never had otherwise.

Secondly, when life is complicated I know that there are a lot of twists and turns in this life that I will need to work through. For starters, the devil would like nothing more than to steal my faith and hope and bring me back into his flock. Also, this is nothing more than a great way for me to show my faith and hope in Christ. I have hear it said that worrying simply shows that you do not have enough faith in God.

It is quite easy to believe in Christ and praise him when things are going well. The true testing of our faith is how we react under pressure. Do we consider it a joyous occasion when we are being attacked by life. Do we realize it is an opportunity for growth, or do we get angry. Do we remember or do we forget one simple truth, "God's got this!"

In my past I got angry and upset, which was a sign of both my immaturity and my lack of belief in God. Now I gravitate towards appreciation, which is a sign of my maturing. In order for me to change my perspective, I needed to make one chane. I did that by gaining faith and hope that I never had. All that took was me looking at the trials of life through a different lense. Now I see life through the lens of a believer in Christ, and that has made all of the difference.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What I Am Most Thankful For on Thanksgiving

Today in one of the process groups that I led at work, one of the clients asked if everyone would go around the room and say what they were thankful for. Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I realized that was a pretty good idea. I also realize that there are a lot of stressed out, depressed and lonely people on Thanksgiving. It is a huge day for relapse, because there is a lot of arguments with family and drinking is a staple of many people's celebrations. 

So I spoke of the dangers of holidays. How staying positive and expressing gratitude for what we do have instead of focusing on what we don't is a great way to do avoid relapse. Since I wanted to keep the group upbeat, I thought that sharing what we are thankful for was a superb way to be positive. One of the ladies on my left started, and they began to go clockwise around the circle.

As the participants took turns answering the question, I heard many great answers. I heard family and I realized that I have some great family and I am thankful to have them in my life. Another client said friends, and all I could do is shake my head in agreement. I love my friends, they keep me positive and support my recovery. That was followed by sobriety, another day of life and children that show their love . We also had people who were thankful for a home, a job and a vehicle that works. 

I found myself agreeing with all of the answers given by my clients. I am thankful for my family, friends, job, life, an amazing son and an incredible wife. They are things that make my life worth living. If I did not have them, I would be miserable. I am also thankful for the more material things, such as a new SUV and a roof over my head.

But the question is, why do I have them. Time travel back several years and I was hopeless and miserable. I had a beat up car and a job that I could not stand but paid the bills. I was not thankful for much of anything. Due to my unhappiness I drank, and not just a little. I drank every day because I did not want to feel or think about my life or my past. Today I live my life in recovery and have a positive and optimistic outlook! I embrace who I was because it made me who I am. Why the changes in me?

Then it was my turn in the group to share. What am I really thankful for? I opened my mouth and only one word came out, "Grace!" I am most thankful for grace, otherwise known as unwarranted favor. What is unwarranted favor? Almost 2,000 years ago, Christ died so that I could live. He gave His life so that a sinner such as me could be forgiven of my transgressions and have eternal life. He suffered so that one day I could live an eternity in bliss. That sacrifice was completely unwarranted. That was amazing, and that is why I spoke one word for why I give thanks tomorrow. the form of a sacrifice by a man who did not deserve to die. He did not have to die, He could of had the angels save Him from death and yet chose to anyway. That is what I am most thankful for. A gift that I did not deserve which was still given 2,000 years in the past. As you sit down to enjoy Thanksgiving with friends and/or family, remember that none of that is worth anything if Christ does not die so that we may live. 

Thanks for reading. Have a blessed Thanksgiving and a Merry Christ-mas!!

Why the Police Pull Me Over and Why I Deserve It (I Want You to Do Your Job)

I know several things will happen when I see a police car behind me. I have learned that these things will happen because they have happened frequently to me. I also know that they will happen because I have friends who are police officers and I have asked them about it. When these things happen I have several choices of how to act, but I will get into those choices later. First, let us go over what will happen when I see a police officer behind me.

I can almost guarantee that I will get pulled over by the police when I see them behind me. If I do anything wrong, they are looking for it. The reason that a police officer will get behind me and look for any possible reason to pull me over is evident. I am a convicted felon, period. There is no other reason that they will try to pull me over. I know that pulling me over sounds like a no-brainer to some of you. To others it sounds like they are profiling me, or discriminating against me. We will settle that discussion later when I explain how I feel about it.

I also know that when they pull me over I will sit there for a long time while they run my license. This is not because they have slow computers in their car. The reason that they are taking so long to run my license and registration is because they are waiting for back-up to arrive. This is not because I am scary or dangerous, but because they want to search my car. That means they have one officer to keep an eye  on me and the other one to search.

I could probably get mad about knowing that these two things happening! I could, but I choose not to. I have come to realize that they are doing this for a reason. It is not because of profiling or discrimination that they have looked for  a reason to pull me over. It is because they are doing their job. If they did not try to pull me over, they would not be doing their job and I would want them fired. Let me give you an example of this in another manner.

 Imagine a fire truck loaded with fire fighters driving back from a school they have just visited. They see a house with smoke billowing out of it. Instead of doing their job and checking the house out, they simply drive right by it. How would you feel about that scenario? Would you want these men to keep their jobs? Are they even doing their jobs if they simply cruise by the apparent fire and not check it out? Of course not!

Some of you may argue that it has been 12 years since I have had any charges, so they are holding my past against me. I have earned that right. The studies have found that 87% of felons reoffend, so they are playing percentages. Imagine that you have a four year old son, and he goes missing. A block from you lives a convicted sex offender who got out of prison 12 years ago. Would you want the police to search his home? Would they be doing their job if they did not? Of course not, so they are not doing their job if they do not find a reason to search my car.

I could get mad about this, but I refuse to. The reason why I do not let this make me mad at the police is because I did it to myself. They did not invent the record that appears on their screen when they run my name. I made choices that led to charges that led to convictions. I was guilty from the word go. I am actually lucky that I only spent a year and a half in prison. I got away with a lot more than I got caught for.

I played a game for two decades of my life. If the police where better than me at the game, I got caught. If I was better than them at the game, I got away with it. I got away with a lot more than I got caught for. That said, I did get caught. I did things that I knew where illegal. At times I went to jail. When I did I played by Monopoly rules. I did not pass go, I did not collect two hundred dollars. I went directly to jail. Now, I have a career that is legal. There are still rules that I have to follow in order to keep my job. The police still have rules to follow also. When the pull me over and search my car, they are just playing their game by its rules. I have no right to get mad at them. If I should get mad at anyone, it should be at myself. I made the choices, not the police. Just wanted to share that!!!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Spiritual Spackle and Exodus 3:2

Exodus 3:2 states, "There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up."

I know what God wants me to do. It has been impressed upon my mind and seared into my heart. That said, I have absolutely no idea how to accomplish it. Things were a lot easier without a family, when I could just pick up and do as I pleased. Now, I have a family that I support. That makes a huge difference in how I live my life. I have responsibilities to both my family and to God. My friends say that I am doing enough, but the Holy Spirit continues to tell me that I must do more.

In every way that I can think of, I am extremely blessed. I still have problems, but they are outweighed by all that God has given me. I have lived a life that was full of addiction, loss and misery. Now, I have hope that there is so much positive that I have to look forward to. I need to repay Christ for the sacrifice that He made 2,000 years ago. That is done by following where the Spirit leads me. The question is how?

I was thinking how much I need a burning bush. I need to hear the voice of God's angel filling me in on how to accomplish what God has put in my heart. I will be done with my book, "Spiritual Spackle" by the end of April. I will hopefully have gotten the money I need to self-publish in a Kickstarter campaign that will begin in either December or January. We shot the footage for the promotional video yesterday.

I am hoping this is the first step in beginning the journey that God has laid before me. I will have the chance to share with people worldwide what the Holy Spirit has done in my life. I spent 23 years in addiction, went to prison, attempted suicide, flatlined or overdosed more times than I can count on two hands, have holes in me I was not born with and have more mental health diagnosis than you can count on one hand. I tried every secular method of recovery there was, and none succeded.

The only reprieve that I found was with the Holy Spirit. I went from misery as an Agnostic to eternal optimism as a Christian. I am to share that miraculous transformation with as many people as I possibly can, letting them know that true recovery is only possible through belief in Christ. My first step in sharing is writing the book, then my goal is to eventually speak twice a week sharing the power of Christ. I am hopeful that the Kickstarter campaign will help me get started. If not, then I may need a burning bush.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pure Joy and Eternal Optimism in Recovery vs Self-Loathing and Depression in Addiction

There are some things that make my life pure joy. There are some reasons that I am able to remain optimistic no matter what occurs. I can be positive no matter what happens in my life, and in spite of all that has happened in my life. Things may bring me down, but they will never keep me down. I have discovered several secrets, and I will share them here with you today.
For starters, I am blessed by the things that I have been through in my past. That is both the things that happened to me and the choices that I made. I realize that some people would look at my past and be horrified by it. There is abuse while I was in 5th and 6th grade, 23 years of addiction, prison, suicide attempts, mental health diagnosis and car crashes/overdoses/ fights that should have killed me )I have flat-lined, so I guess they did kill me). I am thankful for them. They created the person that I am today, and I like that person a lot. I know that he has a lot to offer.
I am optimistic because I know that no matter what happens to me today, whether it takes me 5 seconds or 5 years to work through that I will work through it. I know that it will make me wiser and stronger in the process. I also know that I will work through it clean and sober, and that is the best part of it. I know that I never have to use drugs and alcohol again. How does that not keep you optimistic!
I am positive because I know why everything that has happened in my life happened. It happened so that I would have the wisdom and empathy to help those who struggle with the issues that I used to struggle with. I can empower people to make better choices because I have had struggles in my past that I learned from. Today I am equipped to overcome my struggles, and that gave me the wisdom that I have to pass on to others! I will never be beaten down again. I am not who I once was, I am victorious and equipped to stay that way. Life is great, and I'm eating it up!!
The thing is, the longer that I live my life sober the more I owe back to those who are still in their addictions. I have an ability to use the negatives from my past as positives in the lives of other people today. I can help save lifes and in turn allow people to become who they were created to be: great not good, sober not drunk, clean not high, happy not depressed.
So I ask you, why should your life not be full of joy. The Bible says it best in Psalms 118, “For this is the day the Lord has made; I shall rejoice and be glad in it!” We will have ups and downs, but we never have to do anything alone if we are in relationship with Christ! We have supports, whether it is your faith in Christ or your 12 step recovery group. Use them, and then spread recovery to others.
After all, "I can do all things through He who strengthens me." All of this is what keeps my head up and a bounce in my step!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Exhausted but Blessed

I have had a very busy week. I am promoting the project that I am working on entitled "Better Life in Recovery" and it is nonstop activity. I am in the running for a Pepsi Refresh grant, and am against 223 other projects. I have to be in the top 15 in order to get the grant to finish my project. I started out in 21st but have dropped to 25th. So I have been trying to get the word out.

On Friday I went to Missouri State and talked to a couple of department heads about what we are doing. That night I was at the Randy Bacon Studio on First Friday Art Walk. I was there with my wife and a couple who will be in the documentary. We handed out fliers and discussed the project.

Saturday I emailed every fraternity and sorority at Missouri State, every club and organization that the college has asking them for help. I spent several hours on the computer doing that. Later we got a phone call and started an alliance with a couple of other projects.

Sunday I handed out fliers at church to start the day off. I was there for both services and the pastor mentioned the project at the end of both services, also. Later that night I got the project retweeted by several worship entertainers. Matt Maher was the first. Then Charlie Lowell from Jars of Clay and the Jars of Clay official twitter account. Mike Scheuchzer from Jars of Clay was next. Then I was retweeted by Stephen Mason of Mercy Me followed by fellow bandmate Barry Graul. Chris Huffman of Casting Crowns also retweeted me, followed by Dan Haseltine of Jars of Clay.

Today I talked to David Parnell, the author of "Chasing the Dragon." I am meeting with him tomorrow before he talks at the O'Reilly Center to see if he will give me a couple of minutes to talk to the audience. He seemed very receptive when I spoke to him. 88.3 The Wind posted our information on Facebook and my wife did an interview on KLFC with Keith O'Neil about the project.

That is what we have done, and yet we have dropped 4 spots in the past week to # 25 after starting at 21. I am perplexed, to say the least. If anyone can help me spread the word, I would appreciate it. All that I need are people to text 109546 to 73774 every day for the month of November and tell all of their friends to do the same. If you can help me in any way, please let me know.

Any organization that lends a hand, please let me know so that I can thank you!!