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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Rediscovering the Heart of Mercy

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 104,550 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. We are only 450 away from our next goal . 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 updates about the new book. 

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+ Update! The book has been sent to my editor recently. 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.  Some are actually humorous. 

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Glad to have back Linda Clare. She speaks from the heart, and sometime it is gut wrenching such as today’s post. Learn from a mother who has addicted children. 

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Rediscovering the Heart of Mercy

Linda S. Clare

When my son, who’s been a meth-addict most of his adult life, burst into the kitchen, the pot of water for spaghetti noodles was already at a rolling boil. He was boiling mad. Only a kitchen island lay between him and his younger and shirtless brother as they traded insults. The kitchen knives gleamed ominously in their block, as if waiting for one of the boys to snap. It was the hottest day of the year and the most violent behavior I’d ever witnessed from my meth-addicted son.

What they were fighting about, I didn’t know.

I kept my gaze on the boiling water, as my middle child threw food, shoved the toaster off the counter and ranted at his brother. We’d had trouble with fist fights before—mostly late at night when younger bro was drunk and his older sib was high—but this time was different. Meth can induce psychosis, but in the past, he’d always stopped short of attacking me. This time, if he pushed the pot of water off the burner, his brother and I would have serious burns. I prayed the knives would stay in their slots. I was petrified of my own son.

The cords of his neck bulged as he literally foamed at the mouth. We each told him to leave several times, but he wouldn’t back down as he screamed obscenities. No amount of pleading or negotiating seemed to help. My husband finally locked himself in the bathroom and called the sheriff. It was a pretty bad day.

For decades now, I’ve been astounding my friends and relatives by my repeated failures to use Tough Love effectively to drive my three grown sons to recovery. I know I can’t change their minds, and believe me, I’ve tried. Pros call me an enabler and codependent and it’s true. I can’t seem to “kick them out to the streets” so that they can hit bottom, any more than I can take my misbehaving pet to the pound. If I’m responsible for “crippling them” as one friend put it, I am guilty of lots of other no-nos too.

Part of my reasoning has always been that my addicts/alcoholics also have mental health issues, which complicates everything. But more importantly, until now their violence stayed in the realm of sibling rivalry. This time, psychosis and violence teamed up like the New Testament demon who caused that poor guy to fall into the fire. To keep calm, I tried to remember Bible verses.

Over and over again, Jesus asks us to love. To forgive seventy-times-seven. To turn the other cheek. Show mercy and we will receive mercy.  No condemnation. Love not punishment.

How do you show love, forgiveness, or mercy to someone who is psychotic? He wasn’t even making sense. He ran out as the law arrived.

The policeman who responded was courteous but emphatic. We were to toss both these guys out on their ears—today—and go to court for a restraining order in case they weren’t happy about leaving. The cop advised my husband and I to go live our lives and to let our sons go work on their problems any way they could.

I objected, citing their clear need for mental health services, next to impossible to get without a pot of money at the end of the rainbow. Social services strained beyond belief are why so many mentally ill wander the streets unless they go to jail. Self-medication is often the result of untreated mental illness. But this cop insisted the mental problems would go away if my sons got clean.

I wasn’t so sure. Questions rolled through me: What would happen to him on the street? He has little in the way of education, job skills or ways to take care of himself. But if he stayed, what about the feud with his brother? More violence? I couldn’t let that happen.

My psychotic son finally left with nothing except the clothes on his back. He needs help desperately. The system has failed him and millions like him, abandoning sick people to die a slow death from drugs, alcohol, unemployment, homelessness, hopelessness. That day, I felt pretty hopeless too.

But my stance on Tough Love also got an education. I’m pretty sure God’s plan for my life doesn’t include getting scalded by boiling water thrown by a psychotic meth addict. If he is this violent, he cannot stay. If he refuses or cannot gain access to drug treatment and mental health treatment, I can’t trust that another episode won’t happen. I am so sorry. For now, this may have to be the only love, forgiveness and mercy I can offer to him.

This side of heaven we may never know why such things happen. Evil wants to scare the love right out of me and you and anyone who tries to thwart its agenda. I have to stay safe but I won’t stop loving my sons. Or praying for their healing. I pray for wisdom yes, and courage. Courage to do the right thing, courage to stick to my decisions. Courage to keep loving my sons and my God, when a pot of boiling water or a butcher knife might be the last straw.

Today, as far as I know, my son is still alive. The situation breaks my heart but it could lead him to seek help at last. I have no optimism of my own—down here in the pits, everything seems miserable. My heart is a gaping wound.

But a broken heart is tender, fertile ground, where God’s mercy can take root. Mercy then picks up the shattered hope I’ve dropped and lovingly pieces it together again. Pieces me together again. Because He lives, as the old song goes, I can face tomorrow.  Yesterday, hope took quite a beating. But thanks to the toughest kind of love I’ve ever had to give, today it’s coming back strong.

 

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