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. 

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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 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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Time to Help Our Veterans

We are so  honored to be with you each day sharing hope. Our outreach has grown at a tremendous pace. We just past 93,800 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.

 

This whole post is being dedicated to our men and women who have served, or are serving their country through the military.

I am a veteran myself. I know some of the pain they go through. Why am I dedicating this post to them?

22 veterans end their own lives every day! Yes, I said every day. Why? Because they are losing the battle to PTSD, depression, anxiety fear, and the many other usual suspects. Some are just tired of the pain from injuries they have had from combat.

I was deployed to Korea. I know what loneliness is. I know what depression can do to a person.

I fought depression long after I got out of the service. It got so bad that on March 21st, 2001, I was considering if I wanted to check out of this hotel called earth.

I was at the end of my rope. I had nowhere to go.

It was at the lowest point of my life that God stepped in and saved my life. He stopped me from taking my last breath, and put me to work writing and blogging.

I want to tell you a new direction I am going, and want you to be a part of it.

For months and  months I have been searching for ways to reach out to veterans to help them in some way. I have found two ways to do that:

  • I am writing a book called, Signs of Hope for the Military: In and Out of the Trenches of Life. It is nearly finished. It reaches out to those who are suffering from all the demons I mentioned above. I share my own experiences in the Military, especially in Korea, and give suggestions on how the veterans can survive in this not so friendly world. There has been lots of enthusiasm for the book. The word is spreading, and people are waiting patiently for the book.
  • I also wanted to help in other ways. I found what I was looking for through Victory for Veterans. It is a foundation that is just forming. I have been asked to be on the board for it, and I am very honored to do that. Victory for Veterans will be sending out monies to many other charities that are helping veterans. We plan to give out up to one million dollars to each charity, when we have reached our goal.

I am very excited for what this new nonprofit will be able to do. It will help those military who can’t find help anywhere else. It will help them get the much needed aide they so deserve. The slogan for our cause is: They fought for our freedom, now let’s fight for theirs. 

Some gave their all. Others will have lifelong pain from the wounds they have had to live with for us.

I am going to ask you to do one simple thing right now. I am not going to ask for money. I am not going to try to convince you of anything, but I am requesting that all 94,000 of my subscribers, right now, go to Twitter and follow @victoryvets. It is our page to get people introduced to our dream. No push for money. No trying to make you feel bad, and rush to the aide of our veterans. (Right now.) Just follow the page and stand by. We will be letting out more information out as we grow, and start to reach our veterans in any way we can.

If you are a veteran. Hope is on the way. Thank you for serving your country. Thank you for the sacrifice you have made to protect us and….

Remember:

You are never alone.

You are never forsaken.

You are never unloved.

And above all…never, ever, give up!

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Get Ready! Get Set! Stop!

For one of our promotions you have to have subscribed and have a valid email address for us to connect with, to award you your prizes. 

We are growing very fast. Thanks to all of you who have been joining us.  

We are doing another promotion with great prizes involved. We are now at  79,220 This promotion will be a big one, because we will reach 80,000.  We will be giving away prizes for the person who is
our 80,000th subscriber. That will be a milestone. This promotion will go fast. We average 100 new subscribers a day. So don’t wait. Subscribe today.
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We hope to keep growing even more each day, so if you haven’t already subscribed please do now. You just click on the icon right after the title to that.
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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. Doug sent off his mini proposal to an agent who is very interested in his concept. We will update you when we hear more.
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I was hacked again, and I am getting frustrated. Someone doesn’t want me to send out Signs of Hope. I think we may have it under control. I hired a new company called. SiteLock. They are supposed to be the best at monitoring sites and keeping the bad guys away. We will see how that works.
Before I was hacked I told you I would update you on how my alma mater did in their college football game last Saturday. The Oregon State University Beavers took on the Washington Huskies. It wasn’t pretty. We lost 52-7. So now we are 2-9 with one game left with our rival the University of Oregon.  We are picked to lose by 35 points in that one. So if it comes out that way we will be 2-10 for the season. Hard to take.
Competition can bring out the best and worst in us.  If we have a bad year like the Beavers are having there is not much excitement in the locker room. There isn’t many players who want to keep going. Some will not put out their best effort in next weeks game. Why Should they? Everyone is expecting them to lose.
What about you? What is your outlook on life? Do you look forward to the challenge each day, or do you dread getting up in the morning?
We live in a dream world where we feel that the better we perform the more others will like us. We give it everything we can to get recognition from others. We like performing on the stage of life some times.
However, all too often we have our own stage were we battle. That is the stage in our minds and our inner demons. We look great on the outside, but are hurting on the inside.
This front we put up may get us favor among some, but eventually the true felling come out and we feel lost and alone.
Here is my suggestion:
Get ready. Get set. STOP! Stop worrying about what others think about you. Stop worrying about things you can’t control and turn them over to God. The back stage, and front stage of your life must stop and you need to put Jesus on your stage and make him the only one in your life.
Remember:
You are never alone.
You are never forsaken.
You are never unloved.
And above all…never, ever, give up
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I Feel So Defeated

Not sure what is happening. I sent another email to a winner and never received a response. I am wondering if the readers are putting in real email addresses. To win this promotion you have to have a valid email address for us to connect with to award you your prizes.

We have started a new promotion with the same prizes involved. The person who is the 72,000th subscriber will win two prizes that will be announced after we have established a winner. We are now at 71,575, so we are rolling fast to our next winning spot.
We hope to keep growing every day, so if you haven’t already subscribed please do now. You just click on the icon right after the title to do that. _________________________________________________________________
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. He got back from a writer’s conference recently and had some very positive meetings with some agents who are interested in taking him on as a client for his new book. He will up date you as he finds out more.
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I’ve been wondering how we should face defeat. We are told to never give up, and to keep going. But there are times when a door slams on your face, or a huge wall comes up in front of you.
That is when we are really tested. We feel defeated. We feel like giving up. We don’t feel like we want to keep going.
I have been to that spot. I have been down into the muck and mire floundering around. I have times when I didn’t want to get up in the morning. Why should I when it is just another day of defeats?
God woke me up in 2001. I was at the end of a thin rope, and considering checking out of this hotel called earth. I was sitting in my Ford Explorer and near the end. God stepped in and clamed me down.
My life changed that day. I found that the thin piece of rope I was clinging to was really from the hem of God’s robe.
What I learned from that:
  • God is never far away.
  • If He feels far away, guess who moved.
  • If we trust God, no wall, slammed door, storms, or darkness can overcome us. He will defend us against all evil.
  • When we conquer our demons, we are much stronger than before it happened.

Time for you to slam the door to all those negative thoughts, and storms. Let God handle them for you. He loves you as His own child. He made you in His own image.

Remember:

You are never alone.

You are never forsaken.

You are never unloved.

And above all…never, ever, give up!

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