Signs of Hope is Rolling Again!!

We have had a disaster here at Signs of Hope. We had a crash that is not fully explained as of yet, but the bottom line is that we have lost ALL of our subscribers. We had 108,000 or more and they are gone. We are starting with zero again today. We have finally placed a subscription program on the site. Please help us start going again by subscribing.

We will continue to share hope, and reaching out to you that are battling Anxiety, fear, failure, depression, and the many other usual suspects. Don’t give up. We will be strong again!!

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I have been down in the muck and mire for several months, after losing all of my 108,000 followers.

I was ready to hang up my blog and head into the sunset.

Losing all of those followers caused time to do the ole WHY ME, pity party. It took a solid month to even go to my blog again. I was frustrated, and depressed.

Then I started think… You are writing a blog that reaches out to people and shows them signs of hope. 

That was a severe slap to the face.

So this morning I got hyped up and hit the blog hard to get it back to a decent blog that people would enjoy. I called Godaddy and got some plugins added that would allow you to subscribe. I had lost everything.

Why did it take me so long? Why was I procrastinating?

It was the fear of another failure. I forgot who is in charge of this site. God prompted me to get off my rear end and get back at it.

So starting on Wednesday, I will be doing at least three posts a week filled with signs of hope. I will reach out to you who are battling anxiety, fear, depression, addictions, rejection, lost loved ones, and the many other usual suspects.

Never feel you are down and out like I just did. Never think all is lost like I did. Never accept you pain. Seeks help, and I hope it is here you come for help. After all there aren’t too many individual blogs that can claim they had 108,000 followers.

People were signing up every day. The average was 50+. I want that to happen again. To make me seem powerful or famous? Not a chance. If I get up to 108,000 people again it will mean that 108,000 people are getting help. That is my reward.

Remember:

You are  never alone.

You are never forsaken. 

You are never unloved.

And above all…never, ever, give up!

You Can Find Hope in a Package

We have had a disaster here at Signs of Hope. We had a crash that is not fully explained as of yet, but the bottom line is that we have lost ALL of our subscribers. We had 108,000 or more and they are gone. We are starting with zero again tonight. We don’t have this new site up and running the way we want it. We have finally place a subscription program on the site. Please help us start going again by subscribing.

We will continue to share hope, and reaching out to you that are battling Anxiety, fear, failure, depression, and the many other usual suspects. Don’t give up. We will be strong again!!

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Through all the turmoil of the season, Linda Clare warms our heart with hope. I needed it badly, and I am sure some of you do to. Thank you Linda. 

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See the Face of Jesus

by

Linda S. Clare

Christmas Day, I was anxious for a last-minute package to arrive. As I scanned the street for the UPS truck, Jesus came home drunk. Well, not the Lord Himself, but the Face of Jesus, the one we’re urged to see in every person we meet. Standing swaying in the doorway, the Son, OK, my son John, was pretty wasted. “Merry Christmas, Mom,” he said or tried to say as he swept me into a boozy embrace. “I love you.”

It was hard to talk while holding my nose against beery breath. “I love you too.” I meant it, but my voice hitched and tears stabbed at my eyes. To fight my urge to sob, I lit the fires of anger. How could he hurt his mother this way? Selfish idiot, he was ruining the holiday—again! That screw-up, always thinking only of himself! How could he?

I couldn’t bear to look this Face of Jesus in the eyes.

John staggered over to the sofa. I drowned my hopes for a merry and bright season and instead stewed in frustration. Like mothers of addicts everywhere, I grieved for my son and his disease. I begged God for mercy and hoped no one asked me how my holiday went. I cooked the darned ham, decorated the cookies and cleaned up the wrapping paper—I had all the motions down pat. The one thing I didn’t have was hope.

It took another face of Jesus to deliver me out of despair.

This is how Moms of Addicts do holidays: if we are in touch with our sons or daughters, we hold our collective breath hopinghopinghoping they’ll make it through without a catastrophe. If our addicts aren’t in our lives, we give thanks that God watches out for them. And if they’ve passed, we mourn in a thousand ways. Moms of Addicts are in a giant club we never wanted to join, and as the holidays descend, we brace ourselves for pain but try to find a reason to smile.

My love for the Son is supposed to be brighter than all my earthly relationships, and I do celebrate the reason for the season: Jesus’ birth. But, doggone it, I’m a mom, too. A mom of three addicted adult sons, two alcoholics and one meth addict. My love for them defies logic and often sweeps me into a chasm of enabling and despair. Especially during the holidays.

That’s when manipulation gets wrapped in pretty please and enablers like me fall hard. Even those without addiction issues make exceptions. “Oh, it’s Christmas,” we all tend to say and excuse actions and words that might not get a pass any other time of year. I might slip the alcoholic a few extra dollars, knowing full well what it will be used to buy. I might forget that gift cards are easily exchanged for dope. Or I might rationalize my hurt feelings when one or the other of my four adult children disappoints or takes advantage. When it comes to Yuletide enabling, I am a champion.

And most Christmases, my middle son, whom I’ll call Henry, skews our Perfect Clare Family picture into a wreck of dashed expectations. He’s been addicted to meth for years, and in his late thirties, seems its prisoner for life, no possibility for parole. We offer Henry the same sorts of gifts we give our other loved ones, and it has hurt to see him either too high to show up or else too exhausted to care.

Yet this Christmas, instead of tweaking his butt off, sleeping forever or disappearing, he was sober. Sober. It was the best Christmas gift ever, seeing him smile and act normal. He wasn’t in jail or out there somewhere in the cold or skulking around like a methspook. He was the boy I remembered, all handsome and grinning, those green eyes still fringed with lush dark lashes.

I laughed out loud at the joy of it. And steeled my tender feelings against the probability that it wouldn’t last.

All day long, he chatted with family members as if he had never even heard of the awful drug meth. He helped John sober up a little, feeding him (alcoholics often refuse to eat until they are wasted) and speaking to him in love. As I scurried around with the cooking and cleaning tasks, he kept his sloshed bro away from additional spirits and listened patiently as John poured out his heart.

Before the sun dipped and I served Christmas dinner, the unmistakable diesel rattle of a UPS truck stopped in front of our house. I went out to get the awaited package. When I came back in, Jesus aka Henry was just pulling a blanket over a now slumbering Jesus aka John. Henry covered his brother with the tenderness of a father toward his newborn son. This time, my tears flowed in thanksgiving.

Christmas with addicts in the family comes loaded with expectations, but love always rises. Love always wins. You never know where you’ll see the Face of Jesus, or in whom.

I opened the UPS package. It overflowed with fresh hope.

 

 

 

A Story About Suicide

We have had a disaster here at Signs of Hope. We had a crash that is not fully explained as of yet, but the bottom line is that we have lost ALL of our subscribers. We had 108,000 or more and they are gone. We are starting with zero again tonight. We don’t have this new site up and running the way we want it yet. You can’t even subscribe.

We will continue to share hope, and reaching out to you that are battling Anxiety, fear, failure, depression, and the many other usual suspects. Don’t give up. We will be strong again!!

Please come back and subscribe once we have that subscription feature again. 

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Love in the Time of Suicide

by

Linda S. Clare

 

That day, my friend was too exhausted to cry anymore. She sipped her tea and picked at the banana bread I’d made, but she hardly looked at me.

Her husband had tried it. Again.

She stared at the floor, describing the local hospital’s beige and dreary psychiatric ward. When she’d visited, my friend’s husband had chatted about the hospital’s dinner menu. “I think I’ll order the mashed potatoes,” he’d chirped. He seemed to bask in the attention, as if suicide was the best way to spice up a dull morning.

“Did he say why?” I winced.

Her words stung. “When they asked him, he shrugged and said he just decided.” She’d already told me about her husband’s anger problem, and that she was his favorite target.

Then, her voice pinched. “Two attempts, both with weapons, in one year,” she said. “The doctor says he can’t come home this time.”

She paused while I gazed at the potted pink geraniums soaking up sun on the back deck. He was the family gardener—who would tend to the plants? My friend’s pretty face had taken on a grayish cast, even in the warm afternoon light. Should she walk away from this troubled relationship, or stay? She said, “I have some decisions to make.”

My mind had already leapt to the conclusion reached by the doctors, her family and her pastor. “Wanna know what I think?” I blurted it out as I pictured plucking my wonderful friend right out of this terrible situation and whisking her to safety.

“Wait.” She asked me to listen. “Through all of this, I’ve been thinking about your “just love” writing.”

Weeks earlier, when the county jail chaplain told me he didn’t believe in Tough Love—defined as ending relationship with addicts unless they got clean—I’d felt so validated. No, what I needed was a Just Love—the capacity to grant every person, addicts included, dignity and hope without judgment.

Just Love also calls for relationship—meaning both parties are required to offer the same humanity to one another. In a Just Love world, we dare to see addicts or any marginalized persons, as more than something they’ve done or not done. Just Love extends God’s patient, loving attitude to the least of these. Simple.

Most importantly, with Just Love I don’t necessarily have to turn away from my addicted/alcoholic sons. My friend hasn’t always seen it my way, asking if my addicted loved ones are getting the better part of the deal.

But on this day, my friend and I had switched places. Instead of her patiently tolerating my heartfelt belief in supporting my addicted/alcoholic sons, refusing to kick them out until they achieve sobriety, now she was the one who contemplated hanging in there for her husband.

“He had a knife,” I countered. “He could have killed you!”

“But I love him,” she said quietly. “How can I give up on him?”

The week before, she’d raised questions: What did Just Love look like if an addicted or mentally ill loved one acted out violently? Should we accept her even if she endangers lives? How about if he’s verbally or emotionally abusive?

I still wanted to protect my friend, but I had to admit: this is what Just Love looked like from the outside. And watching her suffer, love wasn’t simple at all.

While I was quick to want to separate my friend from her spouse, now she grappled with the same heartbreaking ideas that have dogged me: Do I cut bait and save myself? Which is better—Tough Love or Just Love?

I knew which option I’d choose for her—get the heck out of there before something terrible happened. But to be fair, I tried to see the situation from her vantage point. Suddenly things looked much different.

First, I had to admit that my friend seems to understand things about her husband that I don’t. She loves him for reasons that I can never know.

By that standard, I can’t stop loving my grown children, addictions and all. When it comes to the marginalized—people at the bottom of society who are kept down by punishment, shunning or fear, our knee-jerk reaction is to turn away. But according to the Bible, love is the best response, the response God requires of us.

But it’s not hard to love your own flesh and blood. When I viewed this same belief as an outsider, I began to understand why so many friends (and some who are just tired of my point of view) insist I adopt Tough Love with my sons.

They care.

They want me to be safe and happy—exactly what I want for my friend. And I’ve always said that I draw the line at violence—my sons’ or anyone else’s. From where I sat, the whole suicide scene must have been dangerous: she’d removed the knife from her husband’s hand as he sat nearly comatose. He’d swallowed a boatload of pills, too. But what if he’d played dead, only to attack her with that knife?

“He’d never do that,” she said.

Only a couple weeks before, I’d said the same thing when my meth-fueled son made menacing gestures at a big pot of boiling water on the stove just inches away from me. I didn’t know for sure, but because I’m his mom, I bet that I knew him better than most. I gambled that he wouldn’t hurt me.

She insisted her husband would never lift a finger against her, either. We both sensed our loved ones wouldn’t harm us. You might say we each relied upon a kind of deeper knowing that helped us through it.

This deeper knowing sometimes backfires. Domestic violence sometimes does turn deadly. I hate that. And I would never sentence anyone to a lifetime of abuse from someone who supposedly loves them. Sometimes the hurt is too deep and the bridge is too far and the best thing to do is walk (or run) away—Tough Love as survival.

But in other cases, like mine, Just Love feels more appropriate. My sons aren’t bad or trying to inflict abuse upon anyone but themselves. When my sons have been violent against one another I’ve seen it as the logical end to a bunch of rowdy boys’ drinking bouts. They haven’t shot up the neighborhood or tried to off themselves—well, not that often—and I keep nudging them toward treatment.  I’ve allowed them to stay in my home long past what Tough Love recommends, but in my opinion, not past what God recommends.

Right or wrong, I refuse to give up on them. Now my friend must make the same decisions about her marriage even as the docs work to have her husband committed. To Tough Love him to the curb or keep Just Loving him?

Over and over, God shows us the way of love. Even though we tend to associate love with warm, fuzzy feelings, in practice we experience love as the most dangerous place to be—love settles us in the crosshairs of vulnerability. In moments when we’re already down for the count, love can hurt, reject or abandon us. Anyone who dares to keep loving a misfit, who won’t give up hope even when the rest of the world has walked away, is either angelic or a darned fool. Practicing Just Love isn’t for everybody, but I still believe it is for me.

My friend may decide that detaching with love is her best response to her husband’s problems. Or she may extend the relationship with Just Love. She’ll invest in the hope that the marriage can heal and he’ll promise to work through the issues.

When her husband is released, I hope he never again attempts suicide.  And I hope Just Love helps her stay safe and happy in her marriage just as I hope my sons will seek treatment for their addictions.

To keep this kind of hope alive, we must consider the dangers, and ask ourselves again and again: Dare we risk it all for Love? Live dangerously? For me, God’s answer is always simple. “Just Love,” the One who is Love says, “Just Love.”