A Soldier’s Fearful Battle to Survive

++++I am very excited to announce we have a new guest blogger. Michael Thorin is joining us each month on the third Sunday of each month. He has some inspiring thoughts and ideas to share. His first post is about PTSD, and how he found his way out of the fog of this world. 

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I am so honored to be with you each day sharing hope. The outreach has grown at a tremendous pace. There are over 50 new subscribers a day. The site just past 106,000 in followers. That’s because people are searching for hope and we provide it.

+ WE HAVE A WINNER IN OUR PROMOTION.  THE PERSON WHO HAS THE 105,00O REGISTRATION WILL WIN SOME NICE PRIZES. 

We are starting a new promotion tonight. The person who is our 110,000 followers will win some great prizes. As you can see it goes fast. Don‘t miss out. 

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Doug Bolton, the founder of Signs of Hope, is writing a new book, “Signs of Hope for the Military: In and Out of the Trenches of Life.” It reaches out the military and veterans who may be battling anxiety, fear, depression, addictions, rejections, PTSD, and many other usual suspects. There are 22 military connected suicides every day. That is almost one every hour. We need to help stop those statistics. Be looking for more updates about the new book.

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“Where Were You? Where Are You? Where Are You Going?”

This will be written from my perspective on how I chose to cope with PTSD, and how my decisions brought me from a wrecked marriage, anger and depression to a life full of love, joy, and comfort.

Where Was I?

First off, I served 3 months in Afghanistan as a medic for OEF, and then a year and a half in Iraq as a scout. I was assigned to a gun truck platoon performing convoy security and route recon operations on the most dangerous roads in Iraq.

This time was spent dodging bullets, getting hit by IED’s, and essentially being targeted over 90% of the time. I saw things and did things that had no effect on me at the time. I was simply numb to what was going on around me. I had become callous as my family was back home growing more and more emotional, while I lost my emotions to a darkness to the fog of war, and its’ effect on my body, mind and soul.

Where Am I?

Yesterday I was preparing a devotional, and I was hit with a wave of emotions. The devotional is simply related to the effects of PTSD, and how the VA approaches its treatment of PTSD. My wife had forced me to receive treatment in 2014, or she was taking the kids and leaving me.

Something snapped. Since I had gotten home at the end of 2006, I was miserable. Worse, I made my wife and daughters lives painful and miserable as well. I received treatment and still could not get rid of the nightmares, insomnia, anxiety, lack of trust, and my inability to feel any semblance of emotion. I was essentially a zombie with an attitude and a short fuse.

I was broken.

During my time of PTSD counselling, I found one thing very interesting; the counselors could provide self-help techniques for me, but they could not offer me what I needed: redemption and forgiveness.

What I found interesting was that all of the techniques could bring you back from the bad, but could never help you resolve the bad. While I was receiving tips, I was not receiving forgiveness, and this is what I believe to be the root of the problem.

One of my biggest problems was my inability to feel emotions for what I had been through. I thought I should feel guilty, but I didn’t. I thought I should be upset, but I wasn’t.

What kind of a person was I? Where are my emotions and why does nothing in my family concern me?

I was no longer worthy of my family’s love, and I was determined to drive everything I loved away from me, because no one could understand what I was going through. I began having fits of rage and anger.

I needed forgiveness, pure and simple. I needed to know I was still worth something, and that I wasn’t too far gone to become human again. The only way I could feel forgiven was to seek forgiveness from a higher power. The second person I needed forgiveness from was myself, and then my family. I needed to right my wrongs there and then, or I would not be able to go on with my future in peace.

My choice was relying on my Christian faith and realizing that I was worth so much that Christ had hung on the cross, beaten and torn, for me. I was worth forgiveness, and I believe I cried for an hour when that finally hit me.

Where Am I Going?

While I was fumbling through some pictures to prepare the devotional on PTSD I spoke about earlier, I found one that made me stop and thank God for the miracles he worked, and how blessed I was to have not taken the “easy” way out and gave myself a chance at life, a chance to be as close to normal as possible, and that was the answer.

I was no longer beyond saving. I was no longer worthless. I was no longer the guy that could not rectify what he had seen and done with what he was “supposed” to be. I was finally human again, and not an emotionless robot.

This picture made me realize the importance of forgiveness and redemption; they are invaluable tools in the fight against PTSD and veteran suicides.

I hung in and persevered through my faith, and continue to grow and see miracles and blessings in my life, and the lives of those I care about and love. Had I given up, I would have never experienced the miracles of seeing my daughters grow, and then give us two beautiful grandchildren.

My miracle is that I am still here to enjoy my family, and had I given up in the dark days, I would have never been around to see the brilliance of these good days. As I sit here writing this blog I can’t help but shudder at the thought of my never getting a chance to see these two miracles.

Asking for forgiveness is not that hard, accepting that we have received forgiveness is another matter. I found that my comfort in Christ was the only reason I can write this blog. It is simply a miracle. Reach out and find forgiveness, and you should also forgive yourself. It makes life work, or at least it has not failed me yet.

Where do you want to go with your future, and who will you rely on to get there?

“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”

Theodore Roosevelt

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Michael Thorin

Fultonale, Alabama

 

 

 

 

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You’ve Come a Long Way Baby!

We are so  honored to be with you each day sharing hope. Our outreach has grown at a tremendous pace. We just past 94,990 in followers. That’s because people are searching for hope and we provide it.

We have a promotion going with prizes. The person who is our 95,000 follower will receive two nice prizes, which we will not name. (This is called a hook in writing.) The number of followers are rising fast. We are down to our last 100 before we have a winner! We are averaging close to 50 new subscribers each day. WE WILL HAVE A WINNER SOMETIME TODAY, so don’t hesitate! Click on the icon right after the title of this post to subscribe to be eligible for the prizes. 

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Doug Bolton, the founder of Signs of Hope, is writing  a new book, “Signs of Hope for the Military: In and Out of the Trenches of Life.” It will be reaching out the many military and veterans who may be battling anxiety, fear, depression, addictions, rejections, PTSD, and the many other usual suspects. There are 22 military connected suicides every day. That is almost one every hour. Doug wants to help stop those statistics. Be looking for more details about the new book. Doug Is also seeking military who would be willing to do an interview. It will be part of the book. Sharing by actual soldiers will help many others. Doug just interviewed a WWII veteran. Fascinating! Look for updates here.

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It is so exciting to see where we have come in the last eight years. In 2009 when I first started this blog, not knowing what end was up, I was ecstatic if a got just one new subscriber a day, and now we average 50 a day.

It took a lot of learning on my part on how to write a good post. I had some pretty hilarious ones at the beginning. My proofreading couldn’t prove anything. My thoughts were about my, day and what I had for breakfast, much like you see on Facebook. I thought that was cool, and it wasn’t.

I learned that I needed to talk to my readers. I needed to share with them my hurts; my disappointments; and my frustrations. That is what they really needed to hear. They came back, because they were on the same ride I was. They too have disappointments, hurts, and frustrations.

Some of you have been with me for all of those eight years. Thank you so much for that. We have both grown a lot through those years, don’t you think?

I am so honored to know that my posts may be helping someone in need.

If you are in dire straits. If you are not sure if you even want to get out of bed each day to face the world. If your world has turned into a raging storm, then stay with me. Come back and let’s talk. I have been through many storms in my life, and I know how hard it is.

If we walk the path together, we should be able to help each other.

God is my strength, and my fortress.

Remember:

You are never alone.

You are never forsaken.

You are never unloved.

And above all…never, ever, give up!

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Is There Hope at the End of the Day?

We are so  honored to be with you each day sharing hope. Our outreach has grown at a tremendous pace. We just past 93,775 in followers. That’s because people are searching for hope and we provide it. We have a new promotion going with prizes. The person who is our 95,000 follower will receive two nice prizes, which we will not name. (This is called a hook in writing.) The number of followers raises fast. We are averaging close to 30 new subscribers each day. So don’t hesitate! Click on the icon right after the title of this post to subscribe to be eligible for the prizes. 

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Doug Bolton, the founder of Signs of Hope, is writing  a new book, “Signs of Hope for the Military: In and Out of the Trenches of Life.” It will be reaching out the many military and veterans who may be battling anxiety, fear, depression, addictions, rejections, PTSD, and the many other usual suspects. There are 22 military connected suicides every day. That is almost one every hour. Doug wants to help stop those statistics. Be looking for more details about the new book. Doug Is also seeking military who would be willing to do an interview. It will be part of the book. Sharing by actual soldiers will help many others. Look for updates here.

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Something exciting happening soon.

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This post for this Christmas season is powerful. Linda Clare has been through the gauntlet of despair the last few years. Her determination to not be overcome is amazing. Read her story about an addicted family and their struggles. 

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Hope Resurrected

 

That Christmas was going to be the year: The year my fractured family had a happy Christmas, full of laughter, giving and hope. The year we stopped lobbing snarky remarks at each other and started hugging instead. The year I hoped to celebrate Christmas rather than plan another intervention.

That year, my family, like many families, gathered around a seven-foot artificial tree shimmering with lights and ornaments. The fake fir looked noble sitting next to a sickly, withered African violet on the window sill. We were at Mom’s place, set to do the whole Christmas Dinner thing. My mother was trying out a “new” Christmas menu taken from some gourmet magazine. You could say that’s when the trouble started.

Everyone crowded into Mom’s apartment, marveling at her tastefully appointed formal table set with silver and charger plates. One of the grandkids asked, “What’s that terrible smell?” Mom answered, “Brussels sprouts with shallots and salt pork!” The rest of us grumbled that we’d prefer instant mashed potatoes, jellied cranberry sauce and green bean casserole. Mom took this personally and poured herself another glass of wine.

Yet while we all wore holiday outfits, displayed wide smiles and politely raved over Mom’s “interesting” cooking, inside every one of us simmering resentments, personal grudges and high anxiety brewed. My adult sons and nephews busied themselves with making sure the beer and wines were never lonely, while I cast nervous glances to gauge just how blitzed they were becoming. One family member, who always tries to convert my hedonist boys, was preaching his yearly sermon from his spot at Mom’s grand piano, not realizing his own son was already six fingers into her liquor stash. I looked from face to face, reading the expressions: if I was even half-right, everybody in Mom’s living room appeared to be contemplating a jump off a bridge. With the brussel sprouts.

Whatever hope I had for a Norman Rockwell Christmas wilted like the African violet in the window. And I know my family isn’t alone.

December, perhaps more than any month, is where hope flickers and threatens to die. Even if you’re not particularly religious, the month of giving is known for overindulging, stress and expectations. While everybody seems to slouch toward excess, for those with addiction problems, temptation lies in wait everywhere. For those with mental illness, the demands of December’s holiday cheer can mean a cruel and isolated season. And for those of us who love addicts and/or the mentally ill, December marks the season of holding one’s breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop. That night, I was sure that shoe would crash down in the form of embarrassing and loud behavior from any number of inebriated fools and judgmental teetotalers. In other words, my relatives and me.

Measuring Advent in terms of catastrophes had become a habit for me. I’d become a kind of grinchy let’s-just-get-through-this kind of person, and I thought I had a good reason. I’d spent my tenth Christmas two states away from my family in a Shriner’s hospital ward, recovering from orthopedic surgery. Back then inpatients were only allowed two books and stationery from home. We couldn’t even wear our own clothes. Most of us stayed for at least three months—since October, I’d had two major surgeries on my paralyzed left arm and hand. At times, all of us felt more like inmates than inpatients.

Christmas Day, the hospital staff tried to make our day festive, feeding us a turkey dinner, bringing in a fake Santa and holding a street parade that we on the third-floor couldn’t really see. Most of the other girls on my ward were encased in plaster from their chins to their toes, and I was the only patient who could walk unassisted. That Christmas, I remember that nobody cared much about the parade, the dinner or even the phony Santa Claus. What we really wanted—no, needed—were our families.

But our moms and dads hadn’t even been allowed to send us gifts—to help keep patients from low-income homes from feeling bad. Instead, each patient, sitting on her hospital bed, got a visit from that fake Santa and two small wrapped gifts marked, “For a Girl.” I opened mine and stared at a cartoonish, stuffed Rudolph and a cheap plastic doll. I scolded myself. Be grateful, don’t cry. I felt under my pillow for my little white Bible—one of my two books (the other was a Nancy Drew) from home.

At that moment, more than anything, I wanted someone to hold my hand and tell me I was loveable, if not loved. That even though I wasn’t home for Christmas, they hoped I’d be released soon. The ward nurses scurried from patient to patient, handing out bed pans, taking temperatures and admonishing girls to stay on their beds.  I kept my feelings to myself.

I kept smiling, but my prayer for a Christmas Miracle, in the form of being somehow transported home to Yuma, Arizona, faded away like the Santa’s ho-ho-hos. I buried a boatload of hope that day, not understanding how God had overlooked such a heartfelt request.

Three weeks later, I finally made it home, where my family had kept the Christmas tree up until I arrived. That tree was brown and dead now, but it resurrected my hope for better days ahead. I don’t remember what gifts I received, only that I was so happy—happy to have Christmas with my loved ones, happy to be home. Even then I wondered whether I would have known such happiness if I hadn’t lived through the Fake Santa Christmas first.

And that fateful Christmas at Mom’s, it occurred to me that we continually walk this path of death and resurrection.

The death of hope when a child’s wish isn’t fulfilled or when a codependent mother secretly tracks her sons’ drinking shadows the thorny path from the Cross to Easter’s resurrection. Death is necessary to create new life.  It’s a circle of Good Friday to Sunday, played out on a small scale, again and again.

While I don’t wish suffering or calamity on anyone, it does seem as if our best times come in contrast to our worst times. We savor warmth if we’ve been cold, food if we’ve been hungry. We appreciate shelter if we’ve been homeless and kindness if we’ve seen discrimination or indifference. I doubt I could ever entertain unconditional love if I hadn’t also experienced the pain of rejection. Even so, I struggle to understand the addiction and mental illness in my family and my own role in it. But hope allows me to keep on learning.

Hope is about failing and daring to hope again. It’s about hurting someone’s feelings with a careless remark but sincerely atoning for it and vowing to do better. It’s about extending love to all those who are different, disabled or even those whom we wish would get their doggone acts together. Hope rises from the ashes of our mistakes and helps us keep lurching forward, even if we’re bound for another valley of trial.

Christmas time is tough for so many. For those who suffer from loneliness, addiction, mental illness or just a crazy family like mine, December can be the cruelest month.  Yet I’ve found that the best cure for times when hope withers and threatens to croak is to look outside myself. The One Who is Hope guides me to those who need a little cheer. Hope is born again in me as I embrace others just as they are. Even when you’re broken and hurting and secretly wish those with the glowing annual Christmas letters would stuff it, just keep walking toward the Star, and hope floods in.

That year at Mom’s, I watched as one of my sons withdrew more with each bottle of stout beer he drank. I went to him, huddled in the corner, booze on his breath, desperation in his eyes. There was nothing I could do or not do to convince him to lay aside alcohol. Just as nobody could talk Mom out of her horrid gourmet menu, I was helpless to fix my son’s substance abuse problem. So I did the only thing I could: I took his hand and said, “I love you to the moon and back—and by the way, we could go out for a little fresh air if you need some.”

“Mom.” He smiled. “I love you too.”

 

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Clothes Tattered and Worn? No Worry.

We just started a new promotion. The next winner will be the person who is our 90,000th subscriber. As you found out here, it goes very fast. We average over 50 new subscribers a day. We will get there pretty fast. We just passed 88,850.  If you haven’t already subscribed please do by clicking on the icon right after the title of this post.

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Doug Bolton, the founder of Signs of Hope, has written a new book, “Signs of Hope for the Military: In and Out of the Trenches of Life.” It will be reaching out the many military and veterans who may be battling anxiety, fear, depression, addictions, rejections, and the many other usual suspects. There are 22 military connected suicides ever day. That is almost one every hour. Doug wants to help stop those statistics. Be looking for more details about the new book.

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Our guest blogger for today, is our most consistent writer we have. She has never missed an assignment and they have all been done by deadline. This dedication shows in her work. Thank you so much Lynn Mosher for being there every month for your readers.

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My Robe is All Scrunched Up!

‟For He has clothed me with garments of salvation

and draped about me the robe of righteousness.”

(Is. 61:10 TLB)

This robe cannot be rented, and it cannot be put on lay-away. It cannot be tried on for a while and, then, taken off.

I have one. God wrapped a covering of deliverance, prosperity, rescue, liberty, safety, welfare, and victory around me as a believer, to cover and clothe me in His garment of rightness, justice, and virtue.

It’s called the robe of salvation. David said, ‟For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation.” (Ps. 149:4 NKJV)

It is a forever gift…but it was not free. It came with a great price tag to the Giver: the blood of Jesus.

In His pleasure, the Lord clothed me in a robe of spiritual refinement beyond compare, beautifying my soul with heavenly grace. I cannot work to purchase this robe or work to keep it, no matter how hard I try.

Jesus told The Parable of the Wedding Feast in Matthew 22 about the king who arranged a marriage for his son. When the king went to greet his guests, he spotted a man without a wedding garment.

It was the custom of many countries in Jesus’ day to wear long, white robes at public festivals, weddings, and other occasions. Royalty and the wealthy provided wedding garments for those invited to a wedding. Noblemen also gave a garment to someone they wished to honor.

Refusing to accept or wear the gifted garment was not only the highest insult and deepest disrespect, but, in some countries, also worthy of punishment.

The robeless attendee to this wedding presumptuously entered in his own attire, in his own way, without the garment given him by the king and, therefore, he dishonored the king.

As Christ died to purchase my wedding garment, I cannot enter the heavenly wedding feast without it.

So, what am I to do with this gifted garment? How do I wear my regal robe of righteousness, my beautiful wedding garment..

* inside out?

* backwards?

* upside down?

* thrown over my shoulder?

* dragging it on the ground?

* casually tied around my waist?

* all rumpled and scrunched up?

Do I drag my robe of beauty through the mud of disobedience? Crushed by Israel’s adulterous behavior and attitude, God said to them, ‟You dragged your beauty through the mud.” (Ezek. 16:25a GNB)

What do I do to de-beautify my robe? What is my behavior beneath it? Do I use it to hide under or try to throw it off to misbehave?

In the past, I would sometimes squirm beneath it or struggle to throw it off, to act the way I wanted. But instead, Paul reminded me to ‟Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” (Eph. 4:22-24 NLT)

And I’ve learned to follow Paul’s other advice, ‟Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.” (Rom. 13:14 NLT)

When I first tried it on, it felt uncomfortable and scratchy like burlap. It felt as though it didn’t fit right; it was too large.

But now, I’m growing into it! It’s comfy, falling in velvety smooth folds of peace and joy around me. I love twirling around in it and praising the Lord, for He has given me ‟the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” (Is. 61:3 NKJV)

So, wherever I go and whatever I do, I must remind myself I am clothed with Christ’s presence, with His robe of holiness, and, therefore, I must keep that robe clean and unscrunched!

Do you have a precious robe like this? How are you wearing it? Is it all scrunched up?

From His feet, Lynn

lynnmosher.com

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