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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There Are Threads of Hope if You Look

Threads of Hope

Linda S. Clare

“And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’” –II Corinthians 12:9 NIV

 

I’m acquainted with a wonderful mother who recently posted on Facebook that she’d goofed, big time. A devout Christian, she’d mistakenly outlined her son’s latest substance abuse crisis in a public rather than a private forum, embarrassing all involved. In her apology, she begged those who’d read the post to forget, it or at least refrain from discussing it. I never saw the post in question, but I sensed her humiliation at exposing her not-so-perfect life. This mother’s pain was palpable and familiar. Although I wept with her, it’s shown me again why the strongest hope is often made of the worst weakness.

I know how it feels to show your strong side to the world while some calamity threatens to swallow you whole. For those of us with addiction or mental health issues—our own or those of loved ones—we not only ignore the elephant in the room, we tell ourselves that elephants are overrated. We say, “Stand back! I got this,” even if we’re marching into battle feeling very alone. In our culture, admitting weakness often gets you punched in the nose.

Sometimes God gives us super human strength. That’s grace in action. Other times, we go it alone. We pray for protection, for healing, for blessing even as we present our “game face” to the world. We “battle” cancer, as if willpower can beat the big “C.” We present the perfect picture, even when we’re falling apart.

The poor mom who posted the private info must have worried about looking weak. She’d placed her family in the cross hairs of a judgmental society, inviting strangers to shame, blame or even claim her faith was insufficient. I don’t blame her—it’s happened to me.

I once worked in a Christian bookstore, restocking everything from Bibles to greeting cards. I was grateful for the job—in addition to supporting our family, my left arm’s lifelong paralysis from childhood polio made some simple tasks a little trickier for me. OK, a lot trickier. Still, I never called attention to my disability and always wore an “I got this” face to customers.

One day two women came into the bookstore, where I was straightening greeting cards. After I asked if I could help them find something, one woman leaned closer. She whispered, “God would heal your arm—if you had more faith.” The women left the store while I stood there, waiting for my head to explode.

Later in the breakroom, I cried hot tears of anger and confusion. I railed at God. On the job, I’d never asked for any special treatment. At work, my daily attitude was “I got this.” I had no idea how to make my faith the size it needed to be.

I never saw those women again. But for years after, I couldn’t give myself a break. Then I developed the late effects of polio. Pain and fatigue dogged me, yet I kept overworking my sore muscles. When family members developed substance abuse and mental health problems, I was as determined as that mother on Facebook to show the world how strong I was.

Then one night I dreamed of an abyss, with a single gossamer thread stretched taut across it. The hole was the blackest black, a velvet chasm of despair, while the thread glimmered in the low light. My thread of hope was so fragile, so bare, it would surely break under the weight of the disasters in my life.

Too terrified to say, “I got this,” I stood at the far end of this yawning chasm. I was naked and afraid, all right. Tattered hope stretched out before me but the thread slipped my grasp. The black hole snapped its jaws.

I know better than to put a lot of energy into interpreting dreams. Yet in this one, a hand suddenly appeared, a hand of light and pure love, if that’s possible. Discouraged by broken hope, I stood before this Love-light.

Darkness sneered at me. Fool—all is lost. For proof, just look at your addicted family members or that withered arm. Why bother to hope at all?

I understood that some hard things might never be healed this side of heaven. Why God allows suffering on earth is an age-old mystery. Darkness again whispered, “Abandon hope.” In that moment, I had to choose either my own strength or God’s weakness. The outstretched hand waited.

I chose weakness.

As feeble as I was, I reached for that hand of Light. Something—Someone—transported my failing body across the canyon, fortifying hope as it went. I had the sense I was being carried through the pain and mistakes and dumb moves of my life—and I need not claim any strength of my own.

When I awoke, nothing had changed. My body still ached. My family’s battles with substance abuse and diseases and mental health were as real as they’d ever been. The mother from Facebook no doubt still agonizes over her precious son, and if I were still working at the bookstore, those same women might still scold me for the smallness of my faith.

But everything had changed. Despair can wear hope thin, but God’s grace gives hope its strength—power perfected in weakness. To get past life’s pain, I must stand at the chasm’s edge every day. Learn to let go of the “I got this” mentality that keeps me from recognizing God when He offers me His hand. Threads of hope get stronger as Jesus carries me through, and as I lay aside my strength, He gently allows weakness to prevail.

The trials you face may be far bigger than mine. Maybe you’re much better at surrendering to God than I’ve ever been. But real strength is perfected in weakness. If you need a thread of hope today, put your hand in His hand and He will carry you through. “Trust Me,” He says, “I got this.”

 

Linda Clare

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Can I Still Crawl Out of the Mire?

We have another promotion where there will be prizes. The next winner will be the person who is our 95,000th subscriber. As you found out here, it goes very fast. We average over 30 new subscribers a day. We will get there pretty fast. We just passed 91,450. 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, 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 ever 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.

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Welcome back Taylor Wilkins, our guest blogger. His post tonight is gut wrenching. His honesty reaches into the depths of our souls. Thank you Taylor for sharing.

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Signs of Hope 

Hope Shines Through

There have been times in my life when I felt like I was consumed by clouds of thick darkness on all sides, and I had no hope at all. I can remember on many occasions going to bed feeling completely worthless. In my case it wasn’t obvious to any of the people around me that I was walking in darkness, but I knew. It was a terrible feeling especially as a Christian because I knew what true Christianity was supposed to look like, and my life compared to the life of Jesus was filthy. I was caught up in a lifestyle that was on a never ending cycle of; messing up, feeling terrible, try to keep pressing forward, mess up again, feel terrible, and so on…
The cycle was unbreakable in my mind, and there was no way to be free. To name only a few of my issues, I was a compulsive liar, a thief, I was messing around in relationships, I was addicted to pornography, I was obsessed with myself and how I looked and I was consumed with thoughts of wealth.
People around me were saying things like, you are just figuring things out, but I could not have been more lost and in need of hope.
Over the past week I have been listening to a song by Bethel Worship titled Shine on us. It’s a song that resonates with me because it parallels my story in so many ways. In the first few lines of the song I believe there is a truth captured that provides hope for people in all circumstances:
I was stumbling in the darkness
Couldn’t see my hand in front of me
I was sending up an SOS
When all was lost, You came running
Nowhere to run, no where to hide
You sent the shadows scattering
When through the clouds a piercing light
And then I saw You”
When I finally came to the end of myself I had nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. I lived with an eroding soul because of my sins, and I couldn’t take it anymore.
For me, freedom came through an open confession of truth. I had to trust God with my issues and believe he could fix them. I confessed the truth and all the sin that I stayed in for so many years. I uprooted sins and confessed to the people around me that I had sinned against. After I confessed my sins, I thanked God for setting me free because I finally knew in my heart that I was free. Jesus came into my life like a piercing light revealing all things hidden and removing all darkness from me.
Now I am a brand new person! I no longer have any type of addiction, or compulsion to lie, cheat, or steal. I have no desire to sin and get away with it. Jesus changed everything in my life and has made all things new.
Today this is a Sign of Hope, that no matter the circumstance you are in, or the breakthrough you need, God is near to you and He has “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Taylor Wilkins
Fellowship of Christian Athletes
FCA Salem Area Director
twilkins@fca.org
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he  do…” John 14:12
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Faith Requires Refusals in Our Lives

We have another promotion where there will be prizes. The next winner will be the person who is our 95,000th subscriber. As you found out here, it goes very fast. We average over 30 new subscribers a day. We will get there pretty fast. We just passed 90,690. If you haven’t already subscribed please do by clicking on the icon right after the title of this post.

______________________________________________________________________

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, PTSD, 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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Lord, you are # 1, but I have some other loves in my life.

That is how many people live their lives. They are believers, but have their priorities backwards. They want to go to church. They try to live a honest and good life, but there is a big void in their hearts.

How do I know this? It is because I have been there myself. There have been times when I felt like taking on this world by myself. I felt things were going great so why take time to pray, or read the Bible.

It was like I was jumping over a cliff and expecting me to be able to fly on my own. It isn’t going to happen my friend.

I have been through too many battles of adversity the last fifteen years to think that God isn’t important. I have been on a death bed. I have been through incredible pain. I have faced the unknown when they tried to find out what was wrong with me physically.

If I hadn’t put God first in my life during these times, I am not sure I would be here typing this post tonight.

There were nights of depression. I called out to God, and he gave me peace.

There were nights that I was very afraid. God held my hand and helped me through the storm.

We must remember that God brings light into the darkness. We need to remember that we are His children. He created us in His own image.

I have learned:

  • Going through the days without God leads to a dead end.
  • Not going to church causes me to slide. I need the fellowship of my fellow Christian brothers and sisters.
  • This life on earth s temporary, but life with God is eternal.
  • That I cannot let the dark side pull me down. God is my strength, and my fortress.
  • Playing the victim is never a good thing. Living on the promises of God is a good thing.

So,  what if your healing came through tears? What if many storms come? What is the pain is overwhelming?

There is some versus from a song that I really love:

“In my hurts; in my worst moments; in my storms, you will not forsake me.”

Every time I hear those words and are actually singing them it gives me hope. It gives me peace.

Remember:

You are never alone.

You are never forsaken.

You are never unloved.

And above all…never, ever, give up!

 

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