We Have Many Hopes That Never Happen

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 103,000 in followers. That’s because people are searching for hope and we provide it.

We are in 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. 🙂

There will be some incredible interviews with veterans in this book. Up to twenty different veterans agreed to let me ask them some very personal questions. Some answers will have you in tears.  

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Today is Easter. The most important day of the year. It is the day that Jesus rose from the dead and gave us hope.

Speaking of hope…we hope all the time. We hope for a better job. We hope for a better marriage. We hope we will pass the college test. We hope to find a job.

Hope is a good four letter word that we cling to. We need hope. We need to think everything will come out OK.

Yet, we mope and whine that nothing is going our way. We want more. We want perfection in our lives.

Now, switch your thinking and think of what they were doing to Jesus on that cross. He was near death, and yet he still said, Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing!

He still loved the people very much. He still wanted them to be happy and prosper. He died a horrible death that the Romans never allowed to happen to their own people. It was too gruesome.

Now, back to your own needs. Are you needs so important, that you forget about what Jesus has done for you? Is your, so called, pain because you feel alone, or that God has left you?

Never, ever, forget what Easter is all about. It is about HOPE! It is about having a way to have eternal life, because of one man’s sacrifice for you.

Yes, we all would like a better life. Yes, some of our hope is selfish. We just need to take inventory of our lives, and see if our hope is in Jesus, or is it in ourselves, and us finding ways to survive in this world alone.

Heard a quote at church today, Jesus will draw near you during your doubts, but He doesn’t want to leave you there. 

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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Is Easter About Bunny’s or About Jesus?

We have a winner! We past 83,000. The winner was notified, and we will start a new promotion. The next winner will be the person who is our 86,000th subscriber. As you found out here, it goes fast. We average over 50 new subscribers a day. We just passed 84,700.

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, 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. Be looking for more details about the new book.

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The daffodils and tulips are blooming. Spring is here. I saw the first Robin of spring fly by my window.

This Sunday is Easter. It also is a sign of Spring. A new beginning. A new start. Jesus rose from the grave to give us proof that there will be life after our physical death.

So, what does that mean to you? Do you feel you are one of the chosen people to see God after you pass away? Are you thinking that maybe you don’t qualify to be with God?

Some may even think they aren’t worthy of such a sacrifice that Jesus did. He went all the way to the cross for us. What have we done to deserve His love ?

We don’t have to do anything to receive His love. We don’t have to do something to earn our eternal life except to confess that we have come short of the glory of God and ask for forgiveness. It is that easy.

Those bad memories from the past? Forget them! Those times you turned your back on God? He allows U-turns! You think you have a sin that is unforgivable? Not true!

God loves you the way you are, warts and all. He doesn’t care if you are rich. He doesn’t care if you aren’t the most beautiful person on the block. He doesn’t care what clothes you wear.

We are all equal. We have all been made in His image. He gave us His only Son to die just for you and me the way we are.

So, Happy Easter, and remember there is much more to the Easter Holiday than eggs, and a huge meal. Jesus rose from the dead on that day, and we should all be thankful for His unfailing love.

Also remember:

You are never alone.

You are never forsaken.

You are never unloved.

And above all…never, ever, give up!

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Easter Can be Sinful, if we Aren’t Careful!

We want to thank all the people who have been subscribing to our RSS feed on this site. It has been awesome! We just passed 25,400 subscribers. We averaged over 90 new subscribers a day for March. Why is this happening? Because we offer quality posts of encouragement daily. Many people who come here are searching for hope. We provide this.

The latest exciting news is that we have passed the 1.3 million mark in total hits for our site. That is impressive, and you are the ones that did it.

We have been on the first page of the Google Search Rankings for over three years.  As a matter of fact we are # 2 this week. Help us stay on that page by subscribing today if you haven’t already. Just click on the icon right after the title to do that.

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We would like to let you know that the book, “Signs of Hope: Ways to Survive in an Unfriendly World,” is now out in eBook form at all of the eBook outlets. Just recently we lowered the price from $4.99 to $2.99. That is a big savings. Don’t miss out on this great sale. It may not last all that long.

The hard back is on sale for $15.99 compared to the retail price of $19.99.

This book has words of hope, not only from this site, but personal thoughts from Doug Bolton the author, and an administrator of this site. You can order a book by clicking on the Amazon Icon on the right.

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Plans of mice and men!

Last weekend was Easter weekend. I made a commitment of not over eating this year. I was determined not to “pig out.”

We had two days of Easter gatherings. The first gathering was the day before Easter. We gathered with my wife’s side of the family. The setting was beautiful. We all met on the Oregon Coast, and it was a wonderful day. Not a cloud in the sky; a little windy, but warm. I was looking forward to seeing all of the family again.

Then they started arriving. One had my favorite bean casserole; another had yummy ham. Still another had scalloped potatoes. (Did I mention my sister-in-law brought the best spaghetti on the planet?)

The aroma was incredible, as they warmed all the feast in the oven. While we waited there were the appetizers. There was shrimp with a tasty shrimp cocktail; a homemade dip out of this world, and chips to go with that wonderful dip.

Then there were the desserts! There were homemade brownies, apple pie, cupcakes, and a yummy chocolate pudding pie.

Do you see where this is going? I said I was determined not to pig out, but I was doing a lot of oinking by the time the meal was done!

We face this in life as well. We “promise” not to sin, but we want the flavor of life to be good, and we want the dessert as well. We fall off the wagon, and sin.

Unlike over eating, there is something we can do about our sins. We can depend on God to see us through the riggors of life. He will take our hand and lead us through temptations. He will put on the armor of righteousness and protect us.

When you are tempted to seek the pleasures of this world, remember to turn to God, and have Him pull you through the muck and mire of this earth.

With God on our side, who can be against us?

Remember:

You are never alone.

You are never forsaken.

You are never unloved.

And above all…never, ever, give up!

 

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