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.

Why Was My Son Born Anyway?

Why was my son born anyway, if only to die about a month shy of 20 years old??

As I reflect on his birthday today, I am plagued in my heart to ponder this question. You see, when you have a child who dies too soon, according to our human time understanding, the weirdest questions fill your mind.

So, why was my son born anyway?

Before I allow pity to plow me down emotionally…

Before I allow anger to atrophy my heart…

Before I allow despair to dump me into the pit…

I must turn my mind to wisdom and truth.

My son was born for a purpose, just as each of us is born for a purpose.

I believe his purpose was not to be overwhelmed by mental illness, or become addicted to substances and then be overcome by them, or to hurt anyone…

especially not his mom, or dad, or siblings, or family, or friends.

He loved us all.

So, what was his purpose?

It is my understanding, that we humans are born to do two things: to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever.

Did my son, Caleb, do these things?

I believe yes, even in his suffering and brokenness he did these things.

Wait….

…especially enduring these things!

He glorified God by loving Creation; He loved to walk and hike and be still in the quiet of Creation, especially with another sibling or friend alongside.

He glorified God by his gentleness with people, especially those who struggled or were left out; He was described by his best friend: “Caleb was the type of person who would be with you, even if you couldn’t be with your own self.” Isn’t that just like our Lord?

He glorified God by running the race, literally. He used his body to it’s fullest alongside teammates, encouraging them and setting an example of physical perseverance and comradery – he led as a captain who cared more for the person than the win.

He glorified God by loving his family especially. He loved “home” and always wanted to know where everyone was and wanted to be part of the activity in the family God placed him in, and as I found out later, he too had a knack of “just being” with a sibling in a way that gave unsaid support and love.

Basically, he loved people. And, that glorified God because that’s just what Jesus is all about.

Even in his suffering and brokenness he did these things.

And he did more.

He taught me so many things in his suffering and brokenness.

He helped me learn unconditional love.

He helped me see people more as God sees people.

He broke down stigma for me and helped me to understand people who struggle with addiction and other issues that overwhelm.

He helped me to humble myself before God and Trust Him more.

In his suffering and brokenness, he glorified God by showing me more of who God is.

Imagine that?

My son was born to love people in his life path and show me (and maybe he did others too) more of who God is. Yes, he had a purpose while he lived his 19 years.

And, because he made a decision to keep Jesus in his heart when he was a younger teen, he is now enjoying God forever, literally.

No time for pity, anger or despair today!

It’s my son’s birthday today and I rejoice in the memories of who he was and choose to love him for all he did that was good. Yes, mistakes were made, pain was involved… first for him, then for us all who loved him… and I wish many things could have had a different outcome.

BUT,

He fulfilled good purposes while he lived, even still.

So, I live today, being reminded, because of his birth,… that I need to do the same with the days God is allowing me: to love others, all others, no matter what. And, to enjoy God forever, keeping him in my heart, assuring me a place in heaven too.

May you who read this post be spurred on to love like Jesus does.

Suffering is Necessary

Blood dripped and flowed from multiple places on his body.

My sandal once caught on the rim of a step and caused me to fall head-first into the corner bead of a wall. Blood spurted and oozed down my entire forehead and cheek , covering half my face by the time I got to the bathroom mirror to asses the damage: a one inch slice to my skin.

So, I imagine…

Blood dripped and flowed from multiple places on his body as HE hung there by three spiked nails. I wonder how much clean, untainted flesh was left during those last hours, if there was any at all.

My pain was localized and gave me a headache for a few hours even after I was cleaned up, stitched up, and sent home.

I cannot fathom the pain he suffered after being up all night and beaten and dragged and whipped and slung onto the wood and nailed and hauled up for all to see as he heaved each breath of air.

THAT.

That is the epitome of suffering.

And WHY?

That’s the question I have asked myself many times during trials of suffering.

Suffering, upon suffering, upon suffering.

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Was birthing a stillborn baby not enough?

Was having colorectal cancer not enough?

Was losing a young adult son to drug overdose not enough?

And now I have breast cancer…. is this enough? My experience tells me, no. There will be more suffering to come.

Why all this suffering in my life? Why all the suffering in your life?

Pondering this for years, I have an answer – maybe not the only answer, but I think its a pretty good answer.

The answer begins with a question:

Why did Jesus suffer to die on the cross?

Anyone who has attended Sunday School or church for a season knows the answer: Jesus died for us, for our sins, so we can go to heaven. This is exactly what I told my children as I raised them in the Way.

How quickly, in our own suffering, it is to forget that and cry, why Lord, am I suffering?

If we are to emulate Jesus in all we do, it clearly follows logically, that if Jesus suffered for the benefit of others then our suffering just might be for the benefit of others. And, because Jesus knows suffering, He authentically pours out compassion on us during our sufferings.

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT

I lost a baby and I was later able to comfort three young moms who lost babies too.

I had cancer and I was able to publish a book on the survival of that and share my testimony of hope.

I mourn a son who died from a drug overdose and have been able to write and speak publicly about that tragedy, offering heartfelt comfort to others.

The been-there-I-know-club is necessary for authentic compassion; Jesus is the King of that club!

I am currently halfway through breast cancer treatments and I know that God has at least one somebody He will soon put in my path for me to encourage in this kind of fight.

Yes. Suffering is necessary.

I am no savior by any means. But Jesus is my Savior, your Savior, if you choose Him.

Jesus’ suffering work on the cross is finished; one day His work through each of us will be finished as well, but until that day comes, I encourage you to keep your eyes focused on Him who knows it all and be ready to wrap your arms around someone else’s shoulders and offer authentic compassion from your been-there-I-know heart.

Doing What my School Teacher Said

So,

I am just doing what my school teacher said.

She led us all outisde on a warm spirng day and said,

close your eyes and listen…

what do you hear?

I believe we were studying the five senses at the time and so I closed my eyes and listened.

Decades later here I am, laying on my porch deck in the sunshine, closing my eyes and listening.

I hear the birds chirping, the wind gently breezing by, rustling the dry foliage…

I hear the backyard chicken clucking and a dog in the distance making a stance… for a moment I hear nothing

and just feel,

the sun tingling my winter-skin making me feel warm.

I feel connected to a bigger realm.

I hear:

I see you,

you are mine,

enjoy this day.

I began these writings nearly three years ago in response to my son’s death of an overdose and titled this site:

In the Battle – because,

well,

I felt like I had been in a raging battle as I fought hard to save my son into long lasting recovery.

I continued to daily battle trying to make sense of how to live my life without my son.

I knew my son lived a daily battle for most of his life, fighting to find reason, purpose, and peace in his life; since nine years old, he fought for ten years, and maybe even more if we count the silent years before that.

I know some reading right now are fighting hard too, whether you are yourself caught by addiction, or emotional turmoil’s, or illness of some sort of another – physically or mentally…

Or whether you are a mom, or dad, or sister, or brother, or grandma, or uncle, or friend watching your loved one suffer in the daily battle…

I write for you,

for me…

and I wonder if it matters…yet I continue on because somehow it grounds me in my battles to put thoughts to words on a screen.

Battles are a part of life – I don’t think anyone is battle-free.

In fact, I think most people are in a battle every single day – remember that when you decide how to treat others in word, or deed.

Today I think of a fellow-grieving mom – Sharon, you know who you are…

And I hope she is enduring the battle strong, although today no doubt makes her feel weak… as memories overwhelm her heart.

Aren’t we all yearning for connection to the bigger realm?

As my son struggled daily, I know he ached for understanding and to make reason out of all his pain…

…watching him, I know I did.

Another bird offers a new song and I am stirred to remain still and listen…

I lay on my deck knowing that this bigger realm is held and sustained by the Creator who knew all things before any part of this earthly life came to be. Humbled I lay, as if in His hands, and find calm in my heart.

I do not know the answers of why we each have the battles we have.

But I do know, I am seen, and I am His, and I am given the gift to enjoy this day if I choose.

Today, I do choose to enjoy.

I hope you can too dear warrior friend…

I urge you to take a moment to do as my school teacher said…

close your eyes and listen…

in the whirlwind of life, we as a people do not heed this very often – quiet can be scary, especially when you are thick in the battles.

close your eyes and listen…

I believe, you can hear more than the sounds of nature if you stay long enough and listen…

you will hear,

I see you,

you are mine,

enjoy this day.

It is my belief, that everyone on earth is a child of the Creator, whether they understand or acknowledge it, or not. And this Creator, God the Father, knows you, sees you, and loves you.

Bottom line:

In the Battle, you are not alone… God is with you.

The Battle belongs to HIM.

If you ever want to know more; contact me, I am more than happy to chat.

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Stop Asking God, “WHY?”

The most human response,

when things happen…

when bad, things happen…

when unexpected, bad things happen… is

the proverbial “WHY? ” question.

I asked it when my baby, Grace, died, in utero, twenty-five years ago.

I asked it when I was diagnosed with colon cancer ten years ago.

I asked it when my 19 year old son, Caleb, died of an accidental drug overdose three years ago.

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Sometimes it was a quiet, weeping statement, “Why, God?….I don’t understand”

Sometimes it was a loud, yelling statement with flailing, fist-shaking arms, “WHY GOD?… I DON’T UNDERSTAND!!!

Sometimes it was a voiceless, groan and moan, collapsed on the floor, “why?… just why, God?

And,

I began to think to ask it AGAIN, about a month ago, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

But I hesitated. This time it was different.

Experience taught me.

Asking “WHY?” keeps me stuck.

And I think it keeps most people stuck.

Stuck in the wallowing pit; stuck in bed; stuck in depression; stuck in going forward because there seems no point to going on. What is life after this really bad thing that happened? How can I ever trust again? How can I ever laugh again? How can I go on without my child?

I have been there myself and see it as I listen to others try to process the unexpected, bad things that happen in life. Let’s face it… we want to know ALL the WHY’S… but in most things, we are not meant to know the answer, of WHY …

Most things, just are.

They just are, because God allows it for a purpose only He knows. THIS answer is hard. I fear most people do not want to hear it.

I didn’t.

Shut my eyes!

Clamp my hands over my ears!

Stomp my feet and babble La-La-La-La …til it all goes away!

Yes. It is hard.

I believe it is hard because… well, we want to be bigger than God. We want to challenge Him, question Him, call Him on the carpet… don’t we?

I know I did.

You see, as a human, I like control of my life and wanted to keep it that way.

But,

as a child of the Father, as a woman who loves Jesus, I need to remind myself:

  1. My life is not my own.

2. He knows best.

The day I asked Jesus into my heart, I gave up my life as my own and I surrendered it to the Father who … knows best. But, being human, I go about my life and often forget what that actually means. My life is not my own; I live to glorify God – and try to do what pleases Him. And to bring it right down to bare-bones truth: He knows best – always did and always will. Who am I to question what God allows in a life? He is the master painter, I am just a pigment of paint in His work.

THIS makes it easier now.

THIS makes me hesitate to ask again, Why?

THIS I have decided: Stop asking God, WHY?

And you know what?

I feel freed. I feel relieved. I feel totally at peace. I have crawled into the palm of His hand and can rest easy, supported and carried.

I don’t need to know why I have been allowed a second bout of cancer before I am even 60 years old. Or why I had to suffer the sudden, loss of two children. Or WHY of anything that happens in my life, day to day.

I know, that if I can keep my focus on this: God is God, and I am not, yet, God loves me… THEN I find peace.

The wrestling is over. The match is won and God’s arm is (always was) held up in victory. My job: trust Him and seek Him.

So this is my decision.

I share it with you, just in case you find yourself in the wallowing pit, or in the bed too long crushed by depression, or wonder what the point is in going on, or if there’s life worth living without your child…

I urge you too, to stop asking God, Why?

… And crawl into the palm of His hand and rest. He’s got this. Cuz He’s got you!

Jesus loves you, ya know.