The Old Rugged Cross

We are so  honored to be with you each day sharing hope. Our outreach has grown at a tremendous pace. We are averaging over 100 new subscribers a day. We just past 102,500 in followers. That’s because people are searching for hope and we provide it.

We are starting a new promotion. The person who is our 105,000 will wins some nice prizes. It goes very fast so 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. 

+ Update! The book has been sent to my editor this week. Now I wait and see how many red marks she will have in it. 🙂 

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We have our regular guest blogger for the second month of each month here tonight. She has a perfect post for the Easter season. She talks about one of my favorite songs. The Old Rugged Cross.

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The Old Rugged Cross

I cannot sing and cry at the same time. Therefore, I never sing “The Old Rugged Cross.” You see, I had a precious grandmother whom I adored. She loved to sing the old hymns, loud and off-key. And that hymn was one of her favorites. I can still hear her voice ringing in my memory. Jesus has been listening to her sing for the last 56 years. I’m sure she sings much better now.

George Bennard, a Methodist evangelist, wrote the first verse of “The Old Rugged Cross” in 1912 and finished the hymn one year later. It is said that during one of his revival meetings, Bennard suffered ridicule when some youths heckled him. After which, he experienced a life struggle.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the first verse and chorus…

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suff’ring and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

Refrain:
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

The One dying for the world’s sins carried a rugged crossbeam that fateful day…

A large, jeering crowd, intermingled with a great many mourners, moved toward Golgotha’s hill on the Via Dolorosa (the Way of Grief). A man, whipped beyond recognition, stumbled in agony under the weight of His crossbeam.

So disfigured and injured was He that the soldiers “laid hold on one Simon, a Cyrenean…and on his shoulders they put the cross, for him to carry it behind Jesus.” (Luke 23:26 Weymouth)

Jesus said to His disciples…

“If anyone desires to come after Me,

let him deny himself,

and take up his cross,

and follow Me.”

(Matt. 16:24 NKJV)

Matthew Henry wrote, “In taking up the cross, we must follow Christ’s example, and bear it as he did.”

Is it our heart’s desire to trail behind in the footsteps of Jesus so that we deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him daily? I say as Paul did, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” (Phil. 3:10 NIV)

My heart has been to Golgotha’s hill. The agony of that cross pierced the depth of my soul. My life received the precious blood of salvation poured out at the foot of that cross, washing me with the Savior’s forgiveness, cleansing me of all my sins.

Therefore, I will deny myself, take up that old rugged cross, and follow Christ daily.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

How about you? Will you deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus daily?

From His feet,

Lynn

lynnmosher.com

 

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Reality Minus Expectations = Esteem

We are so  honored to be with you each day sharing hope. Our outreach has grown at a tremendous pace. We are averaging over 100 new subscribers a day. We just past 102,600 in followers. That’s because people are searching for hope and we provide it.

We are starting a new promotion. The person who is our 105,000 will wins some nice prizes. It goes very fast so don’t miss out. 

_____________________________________

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 details about the new book. Look for updates here.

+ Update! The book has been sent to my editor this week. Now I wait and see how many red marks she will have in it. 🙂 

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Have you fallen into the trap of high expectations, and feel sad because you can’t achieve them? You aren’t alone. Too many people are on the same boat with you.

The neighbor has a new boat; now you want one. Mary has a better job, now you want a better job. You saw a guy drive by in a souped up hot rod, and now you want one.

It can go on and on. We seem to always want more than we have. We expect to be recognized as the most successful person in the neighborhood.

What this leads to is disappointments, depression, anxiety, etc. We have to face reality, and realize that maybe we can’t have that boat, job, or car that the other people have.

What we need to do is accept the spot where we are, and live a good life, of serving God to our fullest.

If we really live with that in mind that leads us to esteem. People see us as we are, and accept us as we are. They look up to us, because we aren’t trying to climb over people to get where we want to go.

So, Reality, (The way we are) compared to expectations, (Where we want to be) should look like this math problem solver.

Reality – Expectations = esteem. Simple math. Just face reality, and quite trying to reach such high expectations, and your esteem will be much higher.

If you are wallowing in the muck and mire, because you feel you are a failure. It may be because you expectations are above your reality that is right for you.

Remember:

You are never alone.

You are never forsaken.

You are never unloved.

And above all…never, ever, give  up!

 

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Not Tough Love, just Love

We are so  honored to be with you each day sharing hope. Our outreach has grown at a tremendous pace. We are averaging over 100 new subscribers a day. We just past 101,335 in followers. That’s because people are searching for hope and we provide it.

We are starting a new promotion. The person who is our 105,000 will wins some nice prizes. It goes very fast so don’t miss out. 

_____________________________________

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 details about the new book. Look for updates here.

+ Update! The book has been sent to my editor this week. Now I wait and see how many red marks she will have in it. 🙂 

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Welcome back Linda Clare. Her posts have us crying. They want us to reach out to help. They are inspiring.

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Not Tough Love—Just Love

That Sunday in church, tears slid down my face. I was so close to hopelessness, I didn’t care if my mascara ran. The night before, two of my grown sons, fueled by alcohol and drugs, had argued and nearly come to blows. Again.

The son who was supposed to be getting sober had relapsed. His brother was tweaking on meth. Around three AM, old grudges and rivalry reignited as their shouts woke my husband and me. We’d managed to break up the late-night fracas, but nothing was resolved. I felt trapped in a cycle: hope’s birth, followed by hope’s death, hope’s rebirth and back to death again. Now, even as Deacon Ron (not his real name) read aloud the Gospel, I wondered if I had strength enough to ever hope again.

My heart was heavy. Any hope of escaping the cycle seemed impossible. I was not only discouraged and sad, I was angry. Angry at my sons for their behavior and their choices. Angry at myself for my failure to enforce Tough Love. Angry at. . .well, just mad.

Bad enough that I felt hopeless. Recently, someone had remarked that I also appeared helpless. Tough Love sounded like a logical solution to a thorny problem, but I couldn’t make it work. That made me seem like a toothless T. Rex, my mini-arms clawing nothing but air.  Why couldn’t I do what so many friends, relatives, counselors and clergy had suggested over the years? Why couldn’t I detach myself from the alcoholics and addicts in my life? After services, I avoided eye contact as I slouched along in the handshake line.

The problem for me, lay in the popular meaning of the term Tough Love. Whenever people advise me to use Tough Love, they usually mean, “kick out your addicted loved ones.” In twenty-plus years of dealing with their substance abuse, I’ve ordered my loved ones into treatment, set rules and drawn up code of conduct contracts. I’ve called police, obtained restraining orders and separated from my alcoholic husband for a time. But what I could never do was kick them out—especially if it meant, “Don’t come back until you’ve licked this problem.”

After services, instead of slinking off, I knelt at the prayer bench where Deacon Ron waits to pray for those who ask him. Ron’s also a Jail Chaplain, and has led a prison ministry for at least twenty years. He knows my family’s situation well. “Please pray for me.” I hung my head but he placed his hands on my shoulders. I glanced up and confessed. “I’m a terrible failure at Tough Love.”

What he said next made my jaw drop. “I don’t believe in Tough Love.”

I’d never heard anyone say that.  I thought Tough Love was the only way I’d ever convince my sons to go into recovery. The reason they were still using their drugs of choice was that I sucked at Tough Love. Unwittingly, I’d chained them to a life of self-destructive misery by not “kicking them out.”

I own a battered copy of the 1982 book, ToughLove, by family therapists and drug and alcohol counselors Phyllis and David York. After the tumultuous sixties and seventies, more and more teens were using tobacco and alcohol, and the crack cocaine epidemic was hitting youth hard. TOUGHLOVE was touted as the solution to restore parents’ control over their wayward youths. The book was a bestseller and changed many lives.

Somewhere along the way, though, TOUGHLOVE became Tough Love. While counseling professionals may still use the phrase to reference the Yorks’ program to establish control over wayward teens, most people today tend to think of Tough Love as, “kicking him/her out,” cutting off contact and withholding resources.

The idea works some of the time. I know several parents whose adult and teenage sons recovered after a Tough Love ultimatum. One friend’s son, in his forties, was a meth addict who recovered after his family said he wasn’t welcome at the family Christmas gathering. My own husband of forty years gave up drinking after we separated, and I’m thankful.

But not every family’s so lucky.  Sadly, addiction and mental illness are often tangled together. Too unstable to hold a job, find housing or pay for treatment, those with both mental conditions and substance abuse problems often self-medicate. Some are like my middle son, whose drug use and mental illness give him an emotional and social age of about ten years old.

Many alcoholics and addicts either cannot or will not get the help they need. Sometimes addicts are stubborn, but more often they’re destitute, physically sick, mentally ill or all three.  After the closure of most mental hospitals in the eighties, individuals once committed to institutions are now forced to live in the streets.  And what’s left for these people is more tough than loving.

My knees hurt as I knelt before Deacon Ron, but my mind raced. Why didn’t he believe in Tough Love? I remembered our own attempts to use Tough Love—we really did try. When our meth addict was not even sixteen, we “kicked him out.” Surely our son would feel the cold and wet from an Oregon winter night and beg to go to rehab. I packed my son’s belongings into a black trash bag, sobbing as I placed it outside the front door. We stood firm as he tried to talk his way back inside. We locked all the doors, only to find him asleep in his bed the next morning. This went on for days.

We finally gave up trying to kick him out, fearing he’d die if he had to live on the street.

Deacon Ron’s gaze drilled through me as I knelt. “Did you know that I lost a son to drugs?”

My eyes must have widened. Ron may have sensed I needed to know he wasn’t just opinionated—he’d already made the ultimate sacrifice. “No,” I mumbled. “I’m sorry for your loss.” I took a breath. “See, that’s why I fail at Tough Love— if I turn my back on them, I’m scared my sons will die.”

Ron smiled a little. “What does Jesus command us to do?”

“Ah. Love the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul. And love your neighbor as yourself.”

“That’s right.” Ron bowed his head and asked God to give me wisdom, courage, to help me love not only my sons, but to forgive those who judge me if I can’t do what they suggest. My soggy heart felt lighter as I began to I understand that talking about difficult problems like substance abuse and mental illness makes people uncomfortable. People naturally want to do something—anything—to make the pain stop. Tough Love sounds easy—just remove the addict from your midst and the problem is solved. In our culture, hard problems like addiction, sickness and death aren’t discussed much, let alone embraced.

I’m as squeamish as the next person—I still can’t watch the part of the movie where the Romans flog Jesus. But God has provided me with the grace and enough hope to keep encouraging and yes, often nudging my sons to get clean.

As Ron prayed, I also felt more compassion for those who can’t tolerate the idea of suffering, those whose story must turn away from the Passion and always be tuned to the glory of Easter. I forgave myself for being so sucky at Tough Love. Slowly, anger was replaced by love.

That day, I arrived home to the sound of our lawn mower. One son had transformed our yard from a mess after the harsh winter storms to an emerald-jeweled landscape. Besides mowing, he’d hauled fallen branches, edged the planters, raked leaves and swept the driveway. He’d even mowed the neighbor’s yard. He beamed as I thanked him for his efforts. Inside, his brother had cooked a Sunday dinner fit for royalty, and the house had been tidied too. A bouquet of fresh daffodils sat on the dining table. Both my sons demonstrated their love by doing, without being asked, chores that for me are difficult. I hugged each of them, hard, whispering that I loved them to the moon and back.

By the end of the day, I had sore knees, a singing heart and a stronger hope than ever. I’ll keep pushing them (and myself) to lay down demons and hold them accountable if they fight those demons with T. Rex arms. More than anything, I will keep on loving without conditions. That’s the toughest kind of love there is.

Linda Clare

Remember:

You are never alone.

You are never forsaken. 

You are never unloved.

And above all….never ever give up!

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Stop the World and Let Me Off!

We are so  honored to be with you each day sharing hope. Our outreach has grown at a tremendous pace. We are averaging over 100 new subscribers a day. We just past 101,100 in followers. That’s because people are searching for hope and we provide it.

We are starting a new promotion. The person who is our 105,000 will wins some nice prizes. It goes very fast so don’t miss out. 

_____________________________________

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 details about the new book. Look for updates here.

+ Update! The book has been sent to my editor this week. Now I wait and see how many red marks she will have in it. 🙂 

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The saying, “Time flies when you are having fun,” sure fits my life right now. My life right now is like going faster than a race car, and I am holding on for dear life. Here is my agenda the last week or so:

  • Put out posts on three blogs or websites, every day. (www.dailysignsofhope.com, www.dougbolton.com, www.victoryforveterans.org.
  • Connecting with thousands of veterans on RallyPoint (A social network just for veterans) You can join yourself at www.rallypoint.com/join/spc-douglas-bolton.
  • Writing my book, Signs of Hope for the Military: In and Out of the Trenches of Life. I just sent most of it to my editor. Still doing some interviews of veterans for the book.
  • Staying close with friends and family. A must in anyone’s life.

This keeps me hopping like a cat on a hot tin roof!

Do you get so busy you don’t know what end is up? Have you forgotten more then you know because your list is too long?

We all need to know that it is OK to slow down. It is OK to pause. We live in an intense rat race, but know that even rats rest.

Think of the tides of the ocean. They come in in a furious pace, and go back out at the same speed, but there is one point at the peak where they do not move for a few minutes. That is called high tide.  So even the oceans rest.

Stop! Stop, and think about life. God says, “Be quiet and know that I am God.” He even wants us to concentrate on Him, and not of this worldly havoc.

Take time off for you. Take time off to take a breath. Take time to make sure you are OK and not wearing down. Rest is a marvelous healer.

 

Remember:

You are never alone.

You are never forsaken.

You are never unloved.

And above all…never, ever, give up! 

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