Thursday, February 21, 2013

Best of a Bad Situation or Making a Good Situation Better

We have an innate ability to control ourselves. In the program of NA/AA they sometimes talk about powerlessness, and that is a really hard concept for people to understand. By the very nature of the word, it is misunderstood. Powerlessness doesn't mean that I have no power in this situation, instead it means that I only have power over myself in the here and now. I may be powerless, but I am not helpless!

Example, you  have someone who dislikes you that you have tried to reconcile with. They will have no part in making peace. Now imagine that person is a family member or has married into your family. You HAVE to see them on a regular basis. With Christmas just passing, this may have been one of those occasions. You had a horrible time. You knew what to expect, and it happened. They glared at you and whispered about you the whole time. You were miserable!

What went wrong? You allowed someone to rent space in your head........................FOR FREE!!! There is absolutely no reason you should have had a miserable time just because of them. If they want to be angry and miserable, that is on them but that is no reason for you to allow them to have control over your emotions. After all, they are called yours for a reason. You own them and you control them.

The problem was the way you approached the event. There are multiple ways to approach the occasion. You need to pick the right one. We can make a bad situation tolerable and  a good situation horrible, it is all about our approach and the follow through.
  1. Build up the event. Continue to tell yourself how horrible it is going to be. Think about how you felt in the past and replay it over and over, leading to anxiety. Then when you get there, focus on just that individual and all that they say. Cower in a corner the entire time, afraid to speak lest you bring their wrath and the scorn from the rest of your family.
  2. Get ready for battle. Surely you don't have to take their abuse and the looks they give you. This time, strike first. Rehearse your verbal zingers and practice your dirty looks. This time, you are going to strike first and often. You will win............or not. Best advice I have ever heard was this, "Never get into an argument with an idiot. They will bring you down to their level and beat you with experience."
  3. Don't go. Stay home and sulk. After all, confrontation is bad and it is sure to happen. It did last time, and history repeats itself.
  4. Call all of your family and whine about the person. Talk about the treatment you get from them, and let everyone else know that you are the bigger person and will rise above it all. But make sure they know if they want to take your side, you are all for it.
  5. Pray for the person. Remind yourself how much fun you have hanging out with the rest of your family. Repeat the mantra "Be the bigger person." Practice the smile you will give them and make sure to seek them out once to say hi when you get there. If the attitude is still there, move on and enjoy the time you have with everyone else. It may be the last time you will see some of the people you love.
So, which one of these ways will help you to have a good time? Way number one will lead to an unenjoyable evening. The second way will end up with you looking like a complete idiot in front of every one there. Three will lead to you living in a cave and becoming a hermit. Four will lead to your family seeing it is you on their caller ID and not answering the phone. Way five will leave you feeling better and having a good time.

I have found that those who have issues with me do so mainly because of my past. In my past I was a drug addict, convict, thug, hustler, dope dealer, etc. Think of the worst things you could about someone, and they were probably true about me. That said, I have changed. People have a little while to realize that change has occurred before I tune them out.

After getting to know me, some people continue to play judge and jury. That is their choice. I used to let that bother me. That was my choice. I have come to realize that I was letting others attitudes control my own attitude. Spoiler alert, never a wise decision. Now I make a better choice. I remind myself, "People who matter don't judge and people who judge don't matter." I should never allow anyone's disposition to change mine. Attitude from others is only an issue if I let it be one!

Next time you are going to be around someone you do not like or that can't stand you, prepare for success. Remind yourself that you are there to have a good time and spend that time with the people you care about. Be nice to the person that the issue is with, and pray for them before you ever get there. Some of my best friends were people I couldn't stand at one point, and vice versa!

Monday, February 18, 2013

BLiR Spring Bash 2013 update

I am really looking forward to the BLiR (Better Life in Recovery) Spring Bash 2013. It is being held Friday, March 15th from 6-10 at New Life Church. There will be a lot of fun had, in the form of live music played by all teen-age acts. There will be games, a car bash, pizza, prizes, live music, testimonies and a positive message. Best of all, IT IS ALL FREE!!!!

This is were we are at so far. We have 3 musical acts that will be entertaining us and are waiting to hear back from a 4th. So far we have The Legacy, Kelsey Snapp and Kayleigh Amstutz (winner of Springfield's Got Talent and First Night's Last Song Contest). We have several speakers, including Ellie Hagan (winner of American Red Cross Everyday Heroes 2011). Jeff Cvitak, a 6th degree black belt and owner of Martial Arts, USA will be doing a demonstration.

We are having a car bash, with a car generously donated from Henry's! We have pizza and drinks for all who come. Various games will be played, winners having the opportunity to win CD's, T-Shirts, hats and student Bibles. At the end of the night one lucky winner will get a Nintendo Wii-U when we do the drawing. Everyone who attends will be entered in the drawing. We are actually giving away 2 Nintendo Wii-U's, one in the drawing and another to the youth group or organization that brings the most people!!

There will be a few more announcements to come over the next month. Invite your friends, family, church, organization. Invite your enemies. They may need to hear what is talked about too! And did I mention not only can you walk away with a Nintendo Wii-U, but it is all free (unless you want to buy an event t-shirt or hat).

We are still looking for several sponsors. We need a $500 sponsor and several $250 sponsors. You can contact me at or We can put your logo on the flier or you can have a banner at the event. If you sponsor the T-shirts ($ your logo can be on them. Let me know, as the dates we have to order the fliers and t-shirts by is fast approaching.

Here is the event page:!/events/477488612314182/ Repost this and share with as many people as you can. It is going to be a great night. Please let me know if you are coming and how many are coming with you. We want to make sure we have enough for everybody that attends!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

02/12/2013: My Bipolar Day

I do not say that my day is bipolar to to downplay the dangers or significance of bipolarism. In fact, probably quite the opposite. I actually know a lot about bipolar disorder. My grandmother, an immigrant from Germany, was diagnosed with manic depression psychosis. My father was diagnosed with manic depression and I was diagnosed with bipolarism. They are all names for the same thing. You could say it is a family tradition.

I also have a Bachelors degree in Psychology and a Master's degree in Social Work that was followed up by becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Part of my job is diagnosing mental health disorders, including bipolarism. Not only have I have lived bipolarism, I have studied it.

That said, life can be bipolar. It can go from extreme happiness to extreme depression with the blink of an eye. For me, today is one of those days. I have much happiness as an anniversary and much pain as an anniversary today. It is my choice how I look at the pain and happiness as well as what I focus on. Life happens, and it either makes us better or bitter. Which is a choice you have to make.

I will start with the positive. 6 months ago today, Addison Grace was born. She is one of the happiest babies I have ever been around. Her smile melts my heart. She is a huge blessing, and completed my family. I have an amazing wife, a wonderful son who is a proud big brother, and my angel Addison. She also scares me. People tell me she will have me more wrapped than my son does. If that is possible that is not going to be a good thing.

5 years ago today, my dad lost his struggle with bipolarism. My father committed suicide. I will not get into how  he did it here, but he used 3 different methods that each by itself would have killed him. He wanted to die. I had talked to him the night before and he was as depressed and down as I had ever heard him. The video tape showing him the next morning, shopping for the things he would use to kill him, showed him with a big smile on his face. That is where I find my solace.

My father had yo-yoed for his entire life, struggling with his disorder. He knew as he shopped that his struggle was over. He would finally be released from the roller coaster, and that made him happy. At the time, watching the video at the police station did very little to cheer me up. It helped me later.

At first I was shattered and I struggled. My drinking was already nightly and to the point of shakes if I went too long without drinking. It got worse. I took his suicide personally at first, and made it about me. How could he do this to me. I finally realized that he was miserable and did not see a way out. He was in pain, the kind of pain I can only imagine. He did not want to hurt anymore, yet I made it about me.

When I attempted suicide years ago, it was not about anyone but me. I was miserable and saw no way out of my addiction, so I just gave up. At least dead I could relax, I could be free. It took me a while to remember that and see that it was the same for my dad. He was wrong just like I was, but he felt that was the only way to overcome his struggles. He forgot about the casualties he left behind.

Suicide is not a victimless crime. It leaves people behind that blame themselves, wondering why they were not enough or if they could have said something different that might have changed the outcome. The truth is, the dead are dead. They have moved on. We are the survivors, the ones who are still alive. We need to find a way to move on ourselves.

I eventually gained the realization that his suicide was what he felt was best, and that if he was struggling that much I was glad he wasn't struggling anymore. I realized that my father had given me another tool in my counseling tool belt. I gained empathy for those left behind when a loved one committed suicide I did not have before his death. It also was a major portion of my upcoming rock bottom that saw me step away from alcohol/drugs/cigarettes/pre-marital sex and never look back.

In the end, my father's death helped me get sober. I am sure my wife is grateful, as are my son and daughter. I would not have them if I was still in my addiction. I still miss my dad, but I remember that he did the best he could and I loved him very much for it. I still do. Without him, I am  not the husband and father I am today. It is amazing how sometimes the worst experiences give us the wisdom and strength we need to grow into who we were born to be.

Today I celebrate all that my father did for me, and I focus forward on my amazing daughter. Two of the most important people in my life. I guess today is not that bad after all!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Holman QuickSource Guide to Christian Apologetics Chapter 4: Does God Exist The Moral Argument

In chapter 4 Doug Powell looks at whether or not God exists through axiology, or the study of morality and values. He posits the question, "Are right and wrong objective realities with claims on all people at all times, or are they subjective realities only - matters of opinion?" Today we see how moral argument attempts to show that if moral values are to make any sense, they must be both universal and objective. Further, if they are objective then there must be a source that is "a transcendent, personal being for whom human actions and motives are not a matter of indifference."

In our culture, the most popular moral view is relativism. It says that individuals and societies decide right and wrong and that right and wrong vary from person to person and from culture to culture. People create values and they are subject to change instead of being universal and objective moral truths. Relativism comes in three flavors, cultural relativism, conventionalism and ethical subjectivism.

Cultural Relativism
Cultural relativism sees different cultures that appear to have different values. Because of that, there can be no right system of morality or they would be shared by all. For example, the United States allows abortions as a legal option, China actually requires abortions under certain circumstances and Mexico has laws that prohibit abortion. Since these countries all appear to have different morals, there can be no objective reality.

Morals are viewed through observation. So, at best these observations are statements of what is factually observed.  Just because something SEEMS to be a certain way does not mean that they SHOULD be that way. Also, just because there are different answers to the same question does not meant a right answer doesn't exist. If golfers argue over the strokes one of  them took on a hole, they are either both wrong or one of them is right. They cannot both be right.

Lastly, cultural relativism refutes itself. If a cultural relativist claims he has the correct view of moral theory and other views are wrong he is not abiding by his own claims. If he claims there is no universal right view of moral theory, he cannot say that other views are incorrect. Due to that cultural relativism cannot be a proper explanation for morality.

Conventionalism says morals are decided by each society. Morality is simply what is legal, which can differ from society to society. There is a right and a wrong, which makes it different from cultural relativism. In this instance, if a society said blues eyes were illegal and that those possessing blue eyes would die, there would be nothing immoral about the law. The immoral thing in that society would be those born with blue eyes.

This may sound crazy, but it is exactly what Germany did in the 30's and 40's. Jews were declared to be both subhuman and deserving of death. Since law is law, the concentration camps were not only filled with Jews but with German criminals. The crime the Germans committed was pretesting Nazi policies and laws.

Conventionalism is not about morality, but instead power. The will of the majority defines morality and forces  into submission or imprisons any who oppose. Due to this, people like Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. were criminals. By the sheer moral bankruptcy of conventionalism, it lacks much needed to explain morality.

Ethical Subjectivism
Ethical subjectivism says that individuals decide wrong and right for themselves, and only themselves. "What's true for you is true for you, and what 's true for me is true for me." Another common refrain is, "Who are you to judge me?" No longer does nayone have the right to say what anyone does in either right or wrong. Saving a drowning baby can no longer be praised, and drowning a baby could no longer be reviled.

This view is self-refuting. If all truth is relative, than what are we to do with this universal statement? And if ethical subjectivism is not true for everybody, than why would someone who holds that view attempt to push it onto others? Paul Copan says that claiming a statement holds true for all but you is called the "self-excepting fallacy."

"Torturing babies for fun is wrong," is a great way to expose what is wrong with ethical subjectivism. Obviously, that statement would not be correct as it is stating a universal that others may not agree with. Someone thinking torturing babies for fun is okay behavior has to have their feelings validated by an ethical subjectivist. Beckwith and Koukl state, "The quintessential relativist is a sociopath, one with no conscience."

Objective Morality
Morals are not descriptions of behavior, but instead are prescriptions for behavior. Morals aren't opinions, but instead they contain a sense of obligation and rightness to them. Moral relativism turns out to simply be sets of opinions. Morals are universal and they transcend society, time, and people. Therefore the source must be transcendent and universal. Since morals are authoritative, not telling us what we should do but what we ought to do, they musc come from an authority. This authoritative, transcendent and universal entity we call God.

We have looked at the validity of a God existing through morals, design and cosmological arguments in the past few chapters. In chapter 5 we will sort out which God exists by looking at various existing religions.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Better or Bitter

Today I want to talk about your abilities. Not all of your abilities, but one of them in particular. You may not even realize that you have this ability, but i guarantee you do! It is a super power every one of us possesses. Just like a super power or ability found in a comic book, you can use it for good or evil. What is this super power? I call it the Better or Bitter ability.

What is the Better or Bitter ability? It is the ability to shape situations, to control your outlook on life. By that I mean you have the ability to make a bad situation good and a good situation bad. Can you control other people or the things that life throws at you? Of course not. But you can use your attitude about any given situation to change your perception of that event.

Johnny Mercer sang in the 1940's, "You got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative and latch on to the affirmative don't mess with Mister-In-Between." That is just as true today as it was 70 years ago. This is not always easy to do. It takes some effort on your part. What you allow your focus to latch onto is important. You have to focus on the positives in every situation instead of the negatives. What you focus on generates your perception of the event, and your perception becomes your reality.

How you perceive an event makes a huge difference. My dad committed suicide several years ago. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to go through. I was so mad and angry and only saw what he had done and how it had impacted me. I looked at how it had impacted me negatively, his killing himself. I missed him, I felt that it was somehow my fault. I also thought about how selfish he must be. All of those thoughts kept me hurting and I barely existed for a while. Through time, my perception of  his suicide changed.

I recognized that if my father was in that much pain, I should be glad he is not in pain anymore. He must have been suffering horribly. Secondly, I saw that the event was also another tool in my tool belt. Learning how to cope with his suicide gave me insight and knowledge I never had before that I can now use in helping friends and clients who are struggling. Does it still hurt sometimes? Sure, when we lose loved ones sadness often happens. My hope is that he is in a better place and regardless of where he is, that he is no longer suffering.

The focus of your attention is huge. You cannot stand your brother-in-law but you love your sister. When you have a family get together, instead of focusing on your brother-in-law being there focus on the time you get to spend with your sister. Relish the time you have with the rest of your family. Count your blessings to spend this time with people you love, because you never know when the last time you will see someone is!