We have a Chance in Life With Hope

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, 450 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 105,000 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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Hope’s Chances

The British mother, straight blond hair across her eyes, couldn’t look at the TV camera. As she and her partner stood in front of the media, they released what was left of their hopes. Their infant son Charlie, born with a rare genetic condition, had suffered massive brain damage. The parents fought hard for his life, but in the end, no doctor could help him. Now Charlie would be allowed to die in peace.*

Hope’s last thin wisp disappeared like morning mist. For them, all that was left was a sky with a hole in the shape of their baby boy.

We grasp for and cling to a crazy kind of hope when a child gets a terminal illness, when the cancer comes back, when nobody leaves the light on in your personal tunnel of woe. It’s hard to keep hoping in the face of a death sentence, yet we often rise to the occasion. “I’m hoping against hope,” we say, and smile to prove it—even when we know we don’t stand a chance.

But is hope sometimes foolish, setting us up for certain disappointment?

In my journey with my adult children, hoping they’ll recover from drug and alcohol abuse, I’ve sometimes wondered how far my hope can stretch. After decades of dealing with one son’s meth addiction as well as his two brothers’ alcoholism, lately I hear myself using words like “intractable.” It sounds a little like incurable, and a whole lot like hopeless.

The first time I said this aloud, I was interviewing a man who’d recently lost his son to the opioid epidemic. I was referring to my middle son’s meth addiction, which experts claim is harder than heroin to kick. “At this point,” I said, “my son has been a meth user for more than half his life.”

The man said he was sorry to hear it, but in my mind, I was suddenly standing mere inches from a speeding train. With a racing locomotive’s hot breath on me, only a fool would give me or my son a snowball’s chance. I waited for impact.

Until I remembered.

Hope isn’t always about odds. Often, it’s a way to keep going when you’re falling apart. Mostly, it’s about love.

My son has said and done things to his family that could make your whiskers curl. He’s called his dad and me names, cursed us blue and has stolen and destroyed property. In a meth-fueled rage when he was barely out of middle school, he attacked his Marine Corps veteran father.  My son’s been through inpatient treatment at least three times and outpatient rehab even more. We’ve gone to family and personal counseling, twelve-step meetings and educational programs on his behalf. So far, recovery hasn’t really stuck.

Some days, I catch myself thinking this addiction nightmare will never end. After all, meth is very hard to beat, and studies show that addicts’ chances dry up if the user doesn’t have much to lose. My son has no job, no spouse, no kids and no home except with us. There’s no parole officer or even a driver’s license to hang over his head. If he continues to abuse drugs, he’ll eventually also give up his youthful vigor, handsome looks and even his teeth.

But I try to remember that my son is not meth. What he does isn’t right or healthy or even tolerable, but he is much more than the sum of his sins. Much more. He’s a part of me, and I cannot stop loving him, encouraging him, and yes, hoping for him.

Some would say the hope expressed by baby Charlie’s parents was not only unrealistic, but cruel. Where’s the upside of an infant who can’t breathe on his own, see, hear or swallow? If meth addiction is indeed intractable, why not throw out my son and be done with it?

The answer I always seem to find is simple—love. Nestled inside a cocoon of love—foolish or not—a fragile hope can push back at the ugliest of prognoses.  We hope because we love—our families, friends, statesmen. And my kind of love always includes a Presence bigger and more mysterious than anything I can imagine.

The circumstances may still suck. Babies may slip away to be angels, senators may succumb and addicts may never stop using. Life is beautiful and frequently terrible, as Frederick Buechner says. Hope knows this all too well but still says, “Sure, life is awful. But I love you and I’m not giving up on you.” And our hearts get lighter for a while, just knowing someone is pulling for us.

When common sense says cut loose, hope keeps me from crumbling into a soggy mess. From time to time, hope even scolds me for using words such as intractable.

The Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes—not to mention the Byrds of sixties’ rock and roll—says there is a time for everything: sowing, reaping, birth, death, you-name-it. Yet throughout scripture, we’re reassured that if we place our hope in God, we’ll never be disappointed. Even old Job, whose life was an absolute train wreck, didn’t stop hoping in God.

The parents who hoped for their terminally ill son’s cure may as well have tried to catch the wind. They gazed at his tiny face and saw more beauty than anything, even with his grave condition and a feeding tube shoved up his nose. They probably sensed Charlie didn’t have a chance, but their love for a son outweighed the sorry odds.

Their experience has shown me how small and limited I can be about my hopes for my own son. Where graphs and charts and polls show meth addiction to be like a cancer that keeps coming back, I search for the good in my son’s still beautiful wide smile.  I’ll keep my slightly crazy hopes on display, partly to keep from strangling him, mostly to keep loving him. Will he ever stop using drugs and live a clean and sober life?

“It’s a long shot,” said the man who’d lost his son to a heroin overdose. “But don’t you ever give up hope.”

“Not a chance,” I said. “Not a chance.”

*Charlie Gard passed away one month short of his first birthday. May he rest in peace.

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Humility and Hope

Micah 6:1-8 
“… what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (v. 8)

 Another passage we must look at if we are to understand the deep meaning of humility is Galatians 6:1 — “If someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently” (NIV).

Paul’s advice is that if someone is overtaken in a fault, he must be corrected in a spirit of humility. Correction can be given in a way which discourages or in a way which sets a person on his or her feet with the determination to do better. Humility is the spirit which makes correction a stimulant and not a depressant, a means to hope and not a cause of despair. The third passage is 2 Timothy 2:25: “Those who oppose him he must gently instruct.” Paul is saying here that when we meet up with those who disagree with us, and whom we think to be mistaken, we must not attempt to bludgeon them into changing their minds, but treat them with the utmost gentleness and respect.

Suppose we go into a room on a bitterly cold day and find the windows are frozen on the inside — there are two things we can do. One is to try to rub away the ice on the inside of the window panes, or we may light a fire in the grate and allow the window to clear itself. Heat does quickly what rubbing may take a long time to do. When dealing with those whom you believe to be in error ormistaken, always remember that gentle humility will accomplish what no amount of bludgeoning or battering could ever do. The sun can get a man’s coat off his back much more quickly than a fierce wind.

I had a person, while I was in my active addiction, confront me about it. At all places to confront me, it was at church. Not only was he a fellow church member, he was law enforcement. But he approached me and confronted me in a gentle and humble way, it seemed more out of concern than judgement, and it was the beginning of a new life for me. He questioned alot of things, things I thought about, but was too scared too ask of myself…

“What are you doing?” – ” Your children pray for you every sunday, do you know how much your hurting them?” The questions weren’t confortable but someone needed to be asking them of me, I wasn’t willing to ask them of myself.

It’s been 5 yrs since that day, and I think I blindsided him last week with some questioning of my own. I was having some issues with children, and didnt know quite how to approach it. So while at church on Wednesday, I asked him to tell me what he was thinking and how he really felt, when he was asked to approach me about my addiction and some other issues it had brought into my life. I could see the stun this question brought when asked.

He said he was very angry, he was upset, and he wanted be be very ubrupt with me, “It was like having a family member you trusted in your house, only to do you wrong, I was mad.”

But I never sensed that in his approach, he did what he needed to do, but he did it in love. Following the scriptures at the begginning of this post. He didn’t feel like being gentle, he felt like being a law enforcement officer, and he deals with these type things on a daily basis, so you can imagine, what his first instinct would be. But he came accross more concerned, and worried about me and my children, and the other testimonies at the church that I could be damaging, with my behavior.

I explained to him,the next time I saw him, why I asked the question, because I needed to know what was going through his mind. I never realized how much he held back from being himself, so God could show through Him. He stated it was a bold question, and had kind of caught him by surprise.

I explained, one of my first instincts, in correcting my children, is to be angry and to be abrupt, and needed to know if he had dealt with those feeling and instincts when approaching me. He said he had, but he prayed about it, and decided to let God be in control.

Not only did this man, possibly, save my life, he has provided my children with a father again, and has become, what I would consider a close friend. Since this conversation took place, I try to be more patient with my children, and our converstation comes first in my mind. That’s not how I wanted to handle it, but that is how God has asked me to handle it…So he is still in a since correcting me but now its more as a mentor, by having the courage to confront me then, and by being honest about his emotions, and feeling now concerning that day….

I won’t mention any names, as I’m sure He wants God to get the glory, but I do want to say, especially here at Thankgiving, that I’m thankful God allowed you to cross my path, even in the most disasterious circumstances, to change my life, and to change the live’s of my children.

Thank you for following God’s lead and following scriptural discipline when that was not your first inclination. I probably would not have responded to the scorning or harsh approach, in addiction, where use to hearing how wrong we are, but in love you simply asked me questions that changed my life.

Thank you for all you did then, and for the friend you have become now…

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