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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Never Feel you are Alone!

“Happiness comes more from loving than being loved; and often when our affection seems wounded it is only our vanity bleeding. To Love, and to be hurt often, and to love again-this is the brave and happy life.”

J.E. Buchrose

This quote reminds me that we can’t go hide in a cave so that we are never hurt or wounded in the heart. We must face the daily grind and receive what comes from it.

This may sound harsh, but I was hiding in that cave. I was much more miserable there than when I finally came out. At least the air was fresh and I could face a new day.

What cause us to get into such a depressed state that we go into a shell? Satan whispers in our ears that God really doesn’t love us. He tells us that we are all alone, and have no one to turn to. He keeps us floundering in the muck and mire, and until we either drown, or we wake up to the fact that we do have someone to turn to. We do have someone that loves us.

It is our heavenly Father.

Ok, I see that you are saying that your earthly father or mother treated you so bad that you are afraid to open your heart to any Father, heavenly or not. I can see that. I know your pain. I had not father in my life since I was about six years old. I missed out on the fun of having a dad see me play sports, and encourage me when I had a bad moment. But I survived and it is because I turned to my heavenly Father, who loves me more than anyone on earth can grasp.

God made us in His own image. If He has done that and He calls us His sons and daughters, don’t you think He wants the best for each and everyone of us? Of course He does.

He even went the extra mile, and sent a Son that he loved, even more than you and I, to die on this earth. He sent His Son to come down in the flesh just like you and me. Jesus was tempted. He knew pain. He cried. He laughed. He was hurt several times by His own disciples.

Yet he still came and He still walked that last long mile with whips tearing at His body, and people spitting on Him. He was hung on a cross and died for you and me.

Our God went that far to show you how much He loved us. He loves you very much. You always have someone to turn to if you feel alone. Don’t let Satan convince you otherwise!

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Why is God so Scarce When I Need Him the Most?

 

 We are honored to have Linda Clare as our guest blogger tonight. I know you will be inpsired by this post.

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Uncle Julio and the Tongues of Fire

When I’m feeling defeated, God’s often elusive.  As soon as I ask God to hand out an instant solution to my problems, poof, He disappears. Sometimes, when the final strand of hope slips from my fingers, I wait for the miracle, and nothing happens. I’m more discouraged than ever.  Maybe you feel this way sometimes too.

Times like these, I feel abandoned. Why must God make Himself scarce when I need Him the most? Money doesn’t fall from the sky, my addicted adult children don’t get clean, my pain doesn’t heal. What’s going on? Isn’t God supposed to do something when I’m at my lowest?

Just when my moans veer off into self-pity, a familiar nudge quickens my heart. The Holy Spirit has arrived. I feel like a live wire or be warm all over. An especially apt Scripture may spring to mind. Power courses through me.

 But what exactly is this Spirit? This part of the Trinity baffles many of us. We grasp God as Father. And Jesus as His Son makes sense. But Holy Spirit? How do you connect with something so elusive?

Maybe you have to know what you’re looking for.

 Lots of times the symbol for the Spirit is a dove, but I identify more with the tongues of fire sitting atop the heads of the early believers. I know it’s only symbolic, but this heads-on-fire image reminds me of the Mexican-American neighbor boys who were my only playmates when I was around six or seven, Peter Bone and Bobby.

Bobby was the mean older boy and Peter Bone (I don’t know why he was called that) was feckless but tended to follow Bobby’s lead. They both got ultra-short haircuts in the summer, where Yuma, Arizona temps could sizzle near 120 degrees.

Their mom, Chu-chi, fascinated me with the way around a hundred relatives would show up at her house for practically no reason. I don’t have that many kin in the world, but this huge extended family descended upon Bobby and Peter Bones’ house to mark every birthday, anniversary or Mexican holiday. The adults marked celebrations with tequila. Which brings me to Uncle Julio.

Tio Julio, as the boys called him, was the kind of uncle every kid wants. He was older, white hair slicked back just so and his torso was round but in a solid way. Julio could do magic, a very important skill for uncles, and his booming laugh could rattle your teeth loose. Julio’s favorite magic trick was to light a match to one of his nephew’s burr haircuts, and the trick was to see how long the kid could be on fire before he cried out.

I don’t recall if the boys’ mom was for or against the ritual, but nobody stopped Uncle Julio and neither boy tried to run. Maybe it was about machismo or maybe it was simply an odd family tradition. I hope those boys grew up to be compassionate husbands and fathers, uncles who traded Uncle Julio’s magic for unswerving search for God. In any case, I was awestruck.

If you’ve ever smelled hair burning you know what this is like. Julio, now many fingers into the tequila, would stand Bobby or Peter in the yard, garden hose at the ready, and strike the match. That sulfur stink always made my nostrils sting, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the spectacle. This skinny Mexican kid standing there shaking, smoke curling up out of his nubby haircut, trying not to look like a baby in front of his burly uncle. When Tio was finished terrorizing the boy, he baptized him with the hose. This was a nice touch because I suppose the kid could then cry without being detected, but he still shook as if his bones had suddenly turned to rubber. I made a beeline for home in case Uncle Julio called for another volunteer.

But the Holy Spirit doesn’t sport a flame. No, the real H.S. is invisible. And when you’re broke or heart-sick or just sick, you know how hard it is to trust in things we can’t sense in the usual ways. That’s when, for me anyway, God shows up without an easy solution and asks me to trust. Trust? You’re kidding.

I’m miserable. At wit’s end, suffering in body, mind and spirit. I feel so alone. God insists that although He’s not going to fix my problems supernaturally, I’m to trust that I’ll get through this. Correction, God says. We’ll get through this.

So I trust, wait on the Spirit, unsure exactly what I’m waiting for. A dove? A tongue of fire? Rushing wind?  Yet God assures that as I trust, I’ll know Him when He shows up. He won’t resemble Uncle Julio any more than I look like his nephews. But the Holy Spirit will come.

I crouch down, clinging to the hope of God’s promise: I will not leave you alone. My heels sting with blisters of my trials. The sun hides on the other side of the mountain, indigo shadows blanket the land.

Then, a rustle. I leap to my feet. Something stirs in the thicket. My hands tremble and I wait, try to be still and know.

The sky splits; the veil is rent. I’m petrified. Quick, shut my eyes; don’t dare peek. The flame rests on my crown, and for an instant I’m overcome with smoke and the weight of God’s gift of power to us. Then, as the wind, it’s gone. But so is my fear. Somehow, heart-break is bearable, even pain is more tolerable as I abide in Him.

This is where the true power manifests itself. You and me and Uncle Julio are more than the sum of our parts. We’re on fire and we can’t stop telling what we have heard: that Jesus is risen, Alleluia. No need to douse this flame.

BIOGRAPHY:  Linda S. Clare grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and taught art as well as elementary school in public and private schools. She has published four books, including her debut novel The Fence My Father Built (Abingdon Press 2099). She has won several fiction awards, teaches college writing classes and works as a mentor and editor. Her husband of thirty-two years and their four adult children, including a set of twins, live in Eugene, Oregon, along with five wayward cats, Oliver, Xena Warrior Kitty Paladine, Melchior and Mamma Mia!

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I Felt Alone and Lost. I WAS Alone and Lost

Many Times we Make the Wrong Turns and Get Lost

Paul was on a one way path with no way to return. He was so determined to do God’s will he never wavered or changed his goals. We should all walk that same path to serve a God that loves us more than we can imagine.

When you take on a task and start walking a path God has chosen, you know where you are going. But we need to continually, “check in,” at the check in points on our journey for God. We need to make sure we are still on the right path that He has chosen. Sometimes we get lost and make the wrong turns in life. 

When I was in the military there were bed checks at night. The on duty soldier would go from bed to bed to make sure everyone was there and OK. God does that for us everyday. He is always checking in with us to see if we are there and OK. We need to let Him know that we are in His will and doing what He has in mind for us. It is called prayer.

Have you thought you were doing what God wanted you to and then find out the doors all slammed in your face? That is when we realize that we may have missed something that God had planted in our minds that would have helped us open more doors.

Being open to God is like having a 24/7 phone line that may be called the red phone; the phone that is used for top priority calls. When that phone rings we need to listen. It could be something that will change our lives, and put us on a journey that may also change other people’s lives.

I was once down and almost out. I didn’t have a red phone. I was trying to wing it on my own. I felt alone and lost. I was alone and lost. I sat in my Explorer and was deciding if I wanted to check out of this hotel called earth. That is when I cried out to God for help. He came to my side, and gave me a fresh look on life, and He also gave me the red phone. (Prayer)

We often try to go at it alone. We try to see if we can face life on our own terms. I guess you know where the usually leads. You got it! A dead end!

Going through life without God is like facing fiery red ants with molasses all over our bodies. The outcome isn’t going to be pretty.

Would you get into a plane without a parachute? That is what you are doing when you fly on your won. 

Become an ace by having the greatest co-pilot in the universe by your side. Let God guide you as you soar in your quest to help others, and share with them the love and understanding that only God can give.

Feel free to test your wings, but have that reassurance that there is always the net of God waiting to catch you if you stumble and fall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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