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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Let Satan Know He is Grass and You are the Lawnmower!

What a great evening I just had. We have seven grandchildren, and # 7 spent the evening with us. Little 6 month old  Lacey, is the most beautiful little girl in the world. (You didn’t expect me to say anything else, did you?)

She has an infectious smile, and loves to cuddle. We went for a walk, and she played in my lap for a long time.

As she sat in my lap, I looked deeply into her eyes, and wondered what life will be like when she becomes and adult.

Will there be opportunities for her? Will the country be in some kind of depression, both physically and mentally?

That will be many years from now. She won’t be out of Hhgh school until around the year 2020.

Will she be able to afford college? Will there be jobs available?

The questions racked my brain all evening.

Looking for the rose colored sun glasses to look through won’t be easy. I pray that she will be strong, and be able to cope in the world as it is when she faces life out of high school.

What about today? What about your life? Do you have to struggle everyday to make ends meet. Does the end of the money come before the end of the month?

Do you battle too many ailments, and don’t have the quality of life you would like?

Why is this happening to all of us? What can we do to fend off the despair and hopelessness.

Now that I have completely depressed you, let me share some things:

  • God feeds the tiny sparrows. If He cares for even them, don’t you think He will care for someone He made in His own image?
  • We shouldn’t dwell on the negative all day. Try thinking about the positive. Like the songs says, ” These are a few of my favorite things.”
  • We also shouldn’t worry about tomorrow. Jesus says, that tomorrow has enough to worry about on its own. Live for today, and lean on God to see you through each day with joy.

God never promised that when we became Christians, everything would be wonderful. As a matter of fact when we first become Christians it is difficult at best. Satan is mad, because he had  a stronghold on you before you turned you life over to God. Satan will work over time to pull you back into his web.

Don’t ever let that happen. Satan is toast now. Throw him out. Let him know he is grass and you are the lawnmower.

God is stronger than any misguided, fallen angel. Lean on your heavenly Father who loves you more than you can ever imagine.

Stay strong, and never, ever, give up.

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What Importance do we place on the Women in Our Lives?

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. What importance do we place on having the women we love in our life?

First they are  mothers who cared for us when we were born until we left the nest, and still stand beside us through the trials and adversity.

They are our cool fresh water when we are under fire. They hold us up during the storms.

When I was a young man I took my family to California to seek an income that would properly provide for them.

I found that income, and we were doing well. I was rising up in the ranks at Safeway from a clerk to the third man in charge of the store. My future was great. I was on in my late twenties, and probably would be a store manger within the next five years. A dream job with a very comfortable income.

I was in California for eight years. Towards the end of those eight years, I felt my real home calling me back to my roots.

I had not only wandered away from my close family and friends, but also the place where all my positive memories were formed.  

My mother cried when we moved to California. She knew she would miss seeing her grandchildren grow. I thought about that towards the end of my time in California. What was more important, having a dream job with lots of income, or spending time with family and friends back home?

I left California and came back to my home town. I have lived here ever since.

My mother is still alive at 94 years of age, and she is not only loving her three grandchildren, but 7 great grandchildren as well.

I went back to College. I got my degree in education, and taught for 22 years.

I  had a very rewarding career, but not the limelight, and income I had in California. I have to tell you… I couldn’t be happier!

Having my mother near me has been very special. She isn’t as strong as she nce was, and forgets things quite often, but I love her very much for the values, and strengths she has taught me through the years.

Today is also a very special day for my wife and I. It is our anniversary. We had a low keyed night of going out to dinner to our favorite Italian restaurant. We did that, because a year ago today we were in Venice, riding on a Gondola, and having songs sung to us by a wonderful vocalist, who was backed by a very good accordion player. The dinner brought that memory back to us.

Charlotte has been my bride for 23 years, and it truly seems like yesterday that we started on our journey together. Our love grows each year, and we build on the foundation we laid by caring for each other in a loving way.

Yes, the women in our lives will enjoy a very special day tomorrow. What will you do to show them how much you appreciate them? Think of something that will be a lasting memory for them.

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Stop the World and let me Off. I’m Tired of Going Round and Round

* This is an excerpt from my book, “Signs of Hope:Ways to Survive in an Unfriendly World.” I am sharing this with you because tonight is my tenth anniversary since I was sitting in my Explorer ready to end my life. Read what happened and why I am still here today.

I am splitting the post into two parts. It will conclude tomorrow night. Michael is still ill, and I will cover for him tomorrow night. Please pray for his recovery.

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Stop the World and let me off! I am Tired of Going Round and Round

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

I was out of control. The sobbing filled my eyes with tears. I couldn’t see the road ahead of me as I drove my Explorer.

Everything seemed to be going wrong in my life. I had quit two jobs because of guilt. I even failed at running my own business. I quit the two jobs because I had to sell something to customers and I had a hard time trying to force people to buy something they may not really need.

The business that failed was a cash flow venture that helped businesses have a better flow of money while they waited for their accounts receivables to come in. I left that venture because I again had to convince people to take part in something they may not have needed.

 Depression, self doubt, fear, anxiety, and even hopelessness, overcame me until I was in the pit of despair. I was a happily married man with three children and several grandchildren. I had a wonderful 25-year teaching career. Why was I feeling so low? Why did I feel so unloved?

All I wanted to do was to stop the madness and leave this wretched earth! I pulled my SUV into a high school parking lot in a secluded area. I was ready to commit suicide. The date was March 31, 2001. The next day was April Fools Day. A very fitting time to have your life end, don’t you think?

I did have the common sense to call my wife Charlotte. She came quickly to where I was. She calmed me down enough to where I thought I could drive myself home. After she left, I sat there behind the steering wheel still crying, and then I yelled, “God, I can’t take this anymore!”

In a flash, there was calmness in me. It even felt different in the vehicle. The air was fresher and cooler. It was as if God were saying, “It’s about time you came back to Me. I have been waiting for you. Let Me carry you the rest of the way.”

My life changed that day. I gave my life back to God.

I had been a Christian since I was about 16. But I was the poster child for a lukewarm Christian.

Yes, I went to church and made sure my children went also, but I wouldn’t say I was a perfect example for them. I rose up in my church to where I was the Sunday school superintendent and on the important Pastor-Parish Relations Committee, but in my heart I didn’t put God first.

On Sundays, I stayed home if there was a good football game on. You didn’t have to go to church every Sunday, did you? God let me know I did. He also let me know of a new direction for me to go.

Why had I allowed myself to fall to such a low spot? Why had I drifted so far away from God?

The answer my friend is I was in a battle with many afflictions like self-doubt, anxiety, etc. Those aren’t fancy medical terms like cardiovascular disease or leukemia, but they are just as deadly. These demons of the mind can control your life to the point where you are not functional. It can cause you to hide from the world and let your life go on unnoticed until you die. It can push you to ending your own life.

I wrote a book about my experiences, and hopefully reaches out to others that have been near the end of their rope.

The book “Signs of Hope: Ways to Survive in an Unfriendly World,” is for those who want to discuss all the enemies of man like self-doubt, fear of failure, divorce, death in the family, and many others. I want to share with you how God used me to write this book, and how He pulled me out of the muck and mire.

You can order this book by going to www.dougbolton.comand clicking on the “bookstore,” tab at the top. It is full of posts I have done on this site, and many more. It has just been reduce in price to $15.99 instead of $19.99, a savings of four dollars. and the shipping is cut in half. Another $2.5o in savings, for a total of $6.50 in savings if you order from this site.  This is a perfect gift for Easter.

* The rest of this post will come tomorrow night 4-2-11. It will be put up at 9:00P.M. again, and will tell “the rest of the story. See what God did to help me reach out to others through my book.

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