How to Win the Battle!

When the Battle is too long, we can lose.

We can lose our perspective.

We can lose our motivation.

We can lose our purpose.

It will be four years, this May 27th, that my son lost his battle with addiction, and we lost our son because he accidently overdosed and died. I confess there were many times during these painful trials that I lost perspective, motivation, and purpose.

During the fight and the pain of it all, the struggle for right perspective rages. What is right perspective when we go through rough times? It is not survival. It is focus. When we look only to the troubles and nothing else, we can lose and feel decimated in a sense; we become embroiled and overwhelmed because we lose sight of our most powerful weapon. Our most powerful weapon is faith in Jesus. All of our battles are spiritual; and these battles belong to the Lord. We need to pray and give it all to Jesus; engage in the fight with the power of prayer.

At the beginning of the struggles, we have plenty of energy, stamina, and fortitude. As time goes on, and on, and on, we are at risk of losing our motivation. Doubts run rampant in our every thought. We grow weary of doing good, no matter what we try. We grow weary of doing what is necessary. Our motivation wanes and lethargy and depression set in and soon we are good for not much. Why? Because we lose our focus. Where does our help come from? It comes from the Lord. So, we need to pray and give it all to Jesus; engage in the battles and be sustained by the power of prayer.

A battle that is long eventually brings to mind the question: what is the point? Is there any good purpose in me enduring these battles at all? We become blind to everything except what we see in front of us, the short view; we again, lose our focus. We easily forget that engaging in a battle is for the long haul; you can’t just quit in the middle, we must fight until the end comes – until the long view is more obvious. Each of our hard struggles has a duration for a purpose. Again, we need to pray and give it all to Jesus; ask for sight into the purpose and be lifted up by the power of prayer.

What is prayer? It is a process of relinquishing control. It is putting all your trust in Jesus for the power, stamina, and wisdom needed to continue on in the battles we face. I hope you will consider turning your battles over to the Lord, so you don’t lose! With God, all things are possible and with God, you are victorious, no matter what! Keep your focus where it belongs: all eyes on Jesus.

I do not know what your specific battle is right now. Mine has been a struggle with motivation. Motivation to keep writing my story to encourage others; to keep writing to engage others into deeper thought as the battles rage on. Just recently, I have put my fingers to the keys and played out the musical dance of words onto the screen. Below is a book I have contributed to, in effort to spur you all on to write, speak, and share your stories. Please check this out and consider obtaining a copy on Amazon!

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SUDDEN DEATH

Death, comes unexpectantly!”

A quote from the Disney Pollyanna movie that sadly, couldn’t be truer.

Before my son, Caleb, died a sudden death, I never gave this topic a thought, ever.

It was something that happened to other people, not my family.

Yet the topic of sudden death sits on my mind almost daily as I contemplate the numbers of people dying of Covid, dying on the streets of our country for a variety of unnecessary reasons, especially those who are still dying of an unintended drug overdose, like my son. Or, as I reflect on the numbers of people who died on 9/11, and who died in the many wars throughout history, my mind cannot fit it all in. It is incomprehensible really.

And then, to think of the numbers of the hearts that are broken, like mine.

Sudden death is not a new thing.

It is however, a life-altering, shock-paralyzing thing for those of us left behind.

Fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends, teachers and co-workers, …my heart aches with yours: past, present, and future, because sudden death just happens. It shreds the heart in a way that no other death does because there is no preparation for the emotions and the loss.

Pain. Tears. Wailing. Anger.

…in my body, …down my cheek, …out my mouth, … in my words, …

Piercing, stinging, whipping, and annihilating the heart of my life.

This is grief. For those of you who have lost loved ones in a most sudden, unexpected way, I see you and I hear your guttural question that takes the form of the three-letter word: W.H.Y.

Honestly, I can answer you: I do not know why. Why my son, or why your loved one. But this I know:

It hurts deeply.

I also know that God knows your pain and He cares because He loves you. This fact does not make the hurt any less, yet, in my experience it gives me strength to face the days, weeks, and years ahead. What matters for me is how am I going to live going forward; this is the test of my faith and character. Who, and whose, am I?

For me, I am a daughter of the Almighty King who sits and rules over all the earth. He knows it all. I do not have to pretend with Him, cuz He knows. I am His daughter, which means I am loved, forever and always no matter my mood or emotions. Who & whose; so important to identify.

It is in this claiming of my identity that I have the strength to go on living well.

I find the most compelling way to live is by dying my own death daily. To put others first and to pour out my love in a way that reflects the love of Jesus in the best trajectory I am able for each day. In this way, the love in my heart that grieves has a place to go and be useful and purposeful.

What does that look like?

Preparing. Tickling. Working. Appreciating.

… to serve others, …the downcast spirit in others, … in practical ways to meet the needs of others, … the life of others in mine…

Praising, trusting, worshipping, and adoring the Lord as he heals the heart of my life.

Sudden death is a tragical thing to endure, that is certain.

I am so sorry if you too have experienced it. Just remember who & whose you are, and if you do not know… I can tell you. You are a child of God who is dearly loved. Look to the Father for all you need.

3 Ways to Endure Loss at the Holidays

My son’s football jersey lay folded on my lap; it will never be worn again. Not by my son and not by any other player on the High School football team. This is the gift offered in honoring my son’s life by the school and the team.

Determination, strategy, and looking out for your friends was my mantra to the team on Senior Banquet night as I encouraged them to be honest, stay away from drugs, and relayed my son’s struggle with addiction. Teammates, friends, of my son, received awards and applause for their contributions and accomplishments as athletes on this night; But, my son, Caleb, was not here on this night with his friends.  Speaking this message on Dec. 7, 2018, was hard.

You know what else is hard? 

Holidays. 

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Holidays are very hard for those of us who grieve. Holidays magnify the loss of a loved one, no matter if they died two weeks ago, or as in my case, my son died three and a half years ago from an accidental drug overdose; the heartache is heavier around the holidays.

The hard question is: how do we endure it?

I reflect on the words I spoke to Caleb’s teammates: determination, strategy, and looking out for your friends, and believe these are totally applicable to me right now as I endure this holiday season.

Sheer determination is what it takes to stand firm and persevere through the hard emotions, just as a lineman stands planted with both feet on the ground and all his weight pressed forward against the opposition that tries to plow him over. As the opposing teammate pushes against the lineman, hard emotions push against us who grieve and try to knock us down.

Strategy is key. A team does not go out on the field for a play without a strategy. Likewise, we who grieve need a strategy; what plan do we have to help us navigate the holidays when emotions run wild? My strategy is this:

  1. Allow and accept the emotions; it’s okay.
  2. Keep traditions; they provide stability.
  3. Invite others in; don’t isolate.

Lastly, look out for your friends. 

Two-fold, this applies to those of us who grieve, as well as those who watch people grieve. I find when I am feeling low, the best remedy for rising up out of the dark places is to focus on lifting someone else up. This brings me joy: Jesus, Others, Yourself. In this order, I find healing.

If you are watching someone grieve, look out for them by sitting with their emotions, with them. Do not negate them or brush them under the rug, and never say, “you should be over this by now.” (Fact: people do not “get-over” missing their loved one).  Include and invite: open your door for purposeful dates with those friends and speak about their loved one with them in a natural way of remembering; this is healing for us who grieve.

Determination, strategy, and looking out for your friends are three prompts I gave to the football team, friends of my son, Caleb, to spur positive and healthy life beyond the field. They are the same prompts I offer to you so that you may not only endure this holiday season, but have joy too!

Eeyore on the Soapbox

Eeyore is at least consistent.

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Always blue, always tired, always with a harrumphing attitude, and yet, he is consistently steady. Plodding along, he still remains in friendship and in going about daily life as best he can. And the best part: he is always loved. The bear, the pig, and the owl alongside the sincerely empathizing boy seem ready to stand by him no matter what.

I am feeling it as the holiday season begins. Yes, I am feeling a bit Eeyore-ish.

Feeling a bit blue about my life situation dealing with residual side effects after surviving my second round of a cancer earlier this year; feeling a bit tired of missing my son who died suddenly just over three and a half years ago; and feeling a bit harumph-ish about writing: does it really matter if I write anyway?

And yet, I plod on, because, well, here I am: writing. Better late than never… August was a while ago.

I am an Eeyore on a Soapbox today.

I am here to tell you to plod on, keep in friendship, keep going forward in living, and remember: you are always loved.

Loss, illness, disappointments, fears, frustrations and hard stuff will always be part of this life. Not one of us gets to escape these things. The storms hit us all and we all get wet, wind-whipped, sand in the eye, and pinged by frozen ice sometimes. Like Eeyore, we all want a new tail because we think it will make things better.

But, a new tail won’t change a thing.

You want to know what changes things?

Good friends, found in both our biological family and in our community family. You know the ones; they are the ones that love you no matter what. Stay close to them, don’t push them away. Be with them even when you don’t really feel like it and let them be with you. This is my encouraging advice to you today. Guaranteed, it will make your daily living so much better.

Even more,

… even still, remember you are always loved.

Jesus loves you better, more deeply, and forever.

I am standing on the Soapbox now. I am hoping it matters that I write anyway.

Jesus came for the Eeyore’s like you and me, the downcast and disheartened people. And he tells us, cast your cares upon me because I care for you.

Jesus is the only one who can lift your chin up so it stays up. He alone gives you the sustaining strength to be transformed. A relationship with Jesus enables you to do more than plod along wishing for a new tail in life. Take courage my friends, Jesus loves you and cares for you just as you are, as an old Hymn says: “Jesus take me as I am, I can come no other way.” Transparent, it is just how Jesus wants us; bring your mess, your woes, and all that makes you weep. He is waiting and wanting to hug you close.

Eeyore’s,

unite with me and come to Jesus; this is my invitational gift to you this holiday season.

Though I still feel Eeyore-ish at times, I feel loved at all times and my chin stays up, even without a new tail.

Thoughts? Questions? Feel free to contact me.

Are You Sure Your Kid Isn’t Using Drugs?

If someone asked me that when my kids entered their teen years, I would flat out have said,

Of course my kids don’t do drugs. I raised them better than that.

I home educated all but one of my kids all the way from kindergarten through graduating High School, just one son attended four years at the local high school. We were a family immersed in church life and Christian summer camps and family camps filled many vacations. We were a close family and I knew my kids knew right from wrong and smart from stupid.

And, yes, I believe they did know all we taught them, even as more than one of them succumbed to using drugs and drinking.

Curiosity.

Peer pressure.

Life challenges leading to desire for escape…

All these things played a part into the experimenting and dabbling with things my kids knew they should not have even touched.

So, I ask again, are you sure your kid isn’t using drugs?

I ask, because today is NATIONAL OVERDOSE AWARENESS DAY.

I ask, because one of my dear young sons overdosed three and half years ago at the age of 19.

Before that, I never knew National Overdose Awareness Day even existed.

Please don’t think it can’t happen to your family. I thought the same and the devastation of my sons death blew me away and woke me to a reality that is continuing to devastate so many families in our culture right now.

It wasn’t a sudden thing; it was a slow thing. It began with curiosity mixed with peer pressure. I know for a fact that the drinking began within the church youth friendship group. I know for a fact, the drugs were introduced on the sports teams my kids played on at the public High School.

The problem was, that for many teens, it was just an experimentation and dabbling for the sake of fun; everyone tries something in their teens, right? The kids my kids tried things with, for the most part, had no long lasting issues remain. Even among my own kids, most of them had no lingering issues.

But the problem was, for my son Caleb, it affected him differently because he had a predisposition for addiction. And he was caught by the beast of addiction slowly but surely and by the time he was in over his head, we, his parents were just beginning to be aware of his using and even still we were in denial. We knew too little, too late, because we were so unaware of what to look for or that it could happen to our family.

Again, are you sure your kid isn’t using drugs?

If you have the slightest inkling, do not deny it.

If your kid has slacked off school, or chores, or hygiene, or cooperation, or conversation, or become moody…

If you have found plastic baggies, or burnt spoons, or empty straw-like insides of pens, or bottle caps, or odd shaped glass pipes, or unidentifiable pills, or small propane lighters…

pay attention!

Talk to your kid, talk to a professional, call your local DART program at the police station, or call your local Recovery Center for help and advice.

Be sure. Be wise. Be proactive.

Because if your kid is caught by the beast of addiction, he or she needs your help and needs it fast.

My heart forever aches.

I share with you today, this post, because I wish for no other momma to ache in their heart like I do.