Not Tough Love, just Love

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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. 🙂 


Welcome back Linda Clare. Her posts have us crying. They want us to reach out to help. They are inspiring.


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


You are never alone.

You are never forsaken. 

You are never unloved.

And above all….never ever give up!

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The Top 5 ways to Win the Battle Against Pornography


Before I share, I want to remind you that there are outstanding books being being given away at my author site. They are national best sellers, and many have the author’s autograph in them. All you have to do is either go to the right side bar here and click on: “Sign up for my free newsletter,” at this site or go to my site and do the same thing there. It is that easy. Then you will be in all future drawings for a book.

* An announcement!!! Just this evening there has been a new feature added to the author site. If you subcribe you will automaticly be able to download a newly published eBook called, The top 25 ways to Survive in a Troubled World. It is your just for subscribing!!

The drawing has been done this evening for the book, How to Win Over Worry. The winner will be notified.

I am trying something new for the next drawing. The winner will be able to pick any book they want from the list on the author site that has the list of books that will be given away. This way you will get one you really like. Notice that some of them have autographs. Sign up and have your pick of any book if you win!! You can go to the autor site by clicking on the tab at the top.

Go to my other site at: There will be more on books that will be given away on the next post.

Sign up now!


The husband had just went through a verbal battle with his wife. He was very angry. He stormed out of the bedroom, and went to the den. He could only hear the stinging words in his ears.

He was told he was lazy, stubborn, and down right unlovable. That hurt deep into his inner soul.

He sat down to the computer, not knowing why or what to do. Then he remembered his friend told him about a site that had some hot scenes on it. He took out the paper with the URL on it and type it in the browser.

Immediately a screen popped up with sizzling pictures on it. It told him to see more he had to join. He got out his VISA and signed up.

His life changed that day. He was hooked! He couldn’t stop going to that computer everynight after his wife went to bed. He found satisfaction there. He could see love going on. He could see two people engaging in what he wished he could. So he watched it every night to satisfy his desires.

This is going on all over the world. Men AND women go to the computer or the Adult Book stote to find their pleasure.

If you happen to be one of those, I understand your frustration. I have “flirted,” with images on my computer too. I was able to quickly overcome them, but I felt the thrill. I felt the surge in my blood. I felt the desires starting to take over.

What can we do? Is there things to conquer the urges. I have five ways I use to help me through these temptations. These are for men:

  1. When you look at the ads in the paper on Sunday, start at the back of each store ad. The women’s clothing is in the front.
  2. If you are walking along and see an attractive woman coming you way, think of a buzz word to get your mind to look away quickly. I say Lord! That tells me I should be aware that the Lord is watching me.
  3. If you are driving and see a hot jogger coming your way, look straight ahead, and NO cheating looking in the rear view mirror.
  4. If you feel uncomfortable when you are talking to an attractive lady at a lunch counter, move to a table. Just kindly excuse yourself and WALK away. Joesph had to run away when the king’s wife tried to seduce him.
  5. Pray!! Always remember God will not allow you to go through a trial that is too hard for you to handle…IF YOU ASK FOR HELP!!! Talk to God pronto if you feel urges staring to take over.

OK! I agree individually each of these don’t seem like much, but if you stick to each one of them without fail, I think you will see a difference.

Another thing…once you have tasted the thrill and satisfaction of lust, you are a lifer. It is just like alcoholics Once they are alcoholics they are forever.

This sounds pretty hopeless, but you can do it if you stick to the five ideas, pray and read the Bible.

You can also join other men who are going through the same things. Check with your church to see if there are any groups that meet. Look in the paper to see if there are any local groups in your town that meet.

In closing The most important thing to remember is that your spouse is NOT your enemy. You may have arguments with her, or she may say somethings that hurt, but I am sure you have done the same thing. Your wife was someone you loved enough to marry. She is still that same person. The glow does seem to fade somewhat after a few years of marriage, but it is up to you to light the fire again. Don’t wait for your wife to do it. Show her you still love her. Do something special, and You will be amazed how things change. It is called, brain washing. 🙂

Above all, don’t give up! Don’t ever give up!!. Stay Strong, and keep the armor of God on.



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