The Shooting in Norway

I wanted to express my deepest sympathy to the families who lost loved ones in the shooting and bombing in Norway.  My mind keeps being drawn to those grief-stricken parents whose children died while on that peaceful island whose name sounds to me like Utopia . . . not that day.  When they said goodbye these parents never dreamed it would be the last time they would see their  child or hear their voice.  We never know what tomorrow holds, or even the next hour!  So I think we should focus more on what we have to be thankful for, rather than on all that is wrong with something or someone.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to do this.  I often think about how things could be better or need to change.  Shame on me!  As hurting parents we tend to do this with our children who are still “in process” — maybe they haven’t overcome their drug or alcohol problem yet; maybe their eating disorder is still haunting them; maybe they can’t seem to accept that they are bipolar and need to be on medication; maybe they can’t stop cutting themselves; maybe they can’t stay out of legal trouble for long.  Some days maybe all you can think of to be thankful for is that your child is still alive.  I’ve been there.  Well, then focus on that!  Right now, today, they are still alive, so be grateful for that.   I have a friend who says, “As long as they are still breathing, there is still hope!”  I love that!  It’s all about perspective.  What will I choose to focus on?  The positive or the negative?

Someone once challenged me to start keeping a “gratitude journal”.  When I am down or discouraged I can open it up and read over my many blessings.  I need to do this regarding my child, too.  There have been many wonderful changes and sometimes it’s easy to overlook them!  You may want to start your own gratitude journal today!

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”   (I Thessalonians 5:17)

Lessons from the Sunrise

The other day I woke up early and went outside to watch the sunrise.  It was so peaceful sitting there talking with “Papa”.  Such beauty He has made all around us, revealing himself to us in so many ways!  I was struck once again with the truth of how light dispels darkness as I watched the sun’s rays slowly drive the clouds of night away.   The sun eventually showed itself!  All the clouds gradually disappeared.  In the same way, Jesus the “Son” is able to break through the darkness that surrounds us (and our child)!   The brightness of God’s Presence penetrates the darkness and brings His light. What was once black becomes lighter – the sky very slowly turned grey, gradually lightening until finally the blue skies broke through.  Clouds parted, seemed to evaporate, vanishing right before my eyes.  Sometimes other colors could be seen – pink, lavender, other shades of blue.

I had to wait patiently and trust that morning’s light would come.  And it did.  It may be night – the blackest of nights – in your life right now, but morning IS coming!  Dawn is almost here!  Don’t give up if the night feels long and endless.  Morning WILL come.
WAIT FOR IT – but I urge you to wait with hope, even though you may not see any reason for it right now!

“Wait (trust, hope, have faith in) for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”  (Ps. 27:14)

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.”  (Ps. 130:5)

 

I Really Hate Alcohol and Drugs!

I really, really hate alcohol and drugs.  I hate what abusing these substances does to lives.  If I really think about it for too long I can begin to feel rageful!  It’s even hard for me to be around people who drink socially at all.  I have that much disdain for it.  In light of all I’ve been through with my daugther’s addictions I guess it’s understandable.  I have had times where I jokingly told friends that I needed to have my own padded room in my home where I could go to safely vent these strong feelings!  What abusing alcohol and drugs can do to a life reminds me a lot of a hurricane or a tornado.  These powerful forces of nature cause terrible, unthinkable destruction, and often death.  They have the power to destroy lives, destroy families and relationships, destroy bodies and minds .   They destroy hopes and dreams for the future.  As parents, our hopes and dreams can be ruined by them, as well as whatever hopes and dreams our chidren may have had for themselves.

The dictionary definition of “destruction” = “The action or process of causing so much damage to something that it no longer exists or cannot be repaired.  Killing something.”   Pretty well sums it up, doesn’t it?  How many lives are ruined every year?  How many marriages ended?  How many men and women ended up in psych wards, rehabs or morgues?  How many killed in car accidents or suicides?  How many ended up homeless?  How many are under the age of 21?  Too many.

It makes me so angry and so sad.  It’s  horribly tragic.  Utterly heartbreaking.  Makes me feel so helpless.  Yet, I do have a choice what I will do with these feelings.  I can remain stuck feeling mad and sad and ultimately become an angry, bitter, depressed person —- or I can express the feelings (maybe to a counselor, in a support group, with a trusted friend, in a journal), get healthy (spiritually, emotionally and physically) myself and  keep moving forward on my own journey.  I choose to let my trials become my teachers.  My stepping stones.  I will learn what I can from the heartaches of this life and focus on being grateful.  Then these things will lose their power over me.  The hurricanes and tornados won’t destroy me, too.  I won’t become another victim.

No,  I’ve never had a problem with alcohol or drugs myself, but witnessing what they have done to my daughter could have destroyed me . . . if I let it.    What will you do with the destruction the hurricanes and tornados of your child’s life have brought into your life?

I like how this Bible verse speaks about learning from our adversities and afflictions.  He will direct us through it!

“Although the Lord gives the bread of adverstiy and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them.  Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’ ”  (Isaiah 30:20-21)

A great book that helped me so much was When I Lay My Isaac Down by Carol Kent.  You can order it for FREE today for your kindle and it is available at amazon!  I think it is only free today for your kindle.  It is a must have for any one facing unthinkable tragedies in their life!  God will meet you in it, take you through it and even bring good out of it!

Accepting my child’s destructive choices

Acceptance.  Hmmmmmm . . . . What does it look like to work through painful losses with your son or daughter?  When your child has a problem with drugs or alcohol, pornography, an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia, cutting or some other form of self harm, suicidal thoughts (or has made attempts), depression, bipolar or some other mental health issue, same sex identity struggles, has been raped or abused in some way you are thrown into a world of grief and loss.  You are suddenly on a journey through all the stages and phases of grief that are the same as though they had died.  In some ways worse because it often includes the element of rejection.  When my daughter moved out because of her need for alcohol and drugs it crusehd me.  It felt as though she had died and some days I wished I had died.  The pain was so deep I didn’t think I could bear it.  It would have been easier.  I was then on a journey toward my ultimate goal of A C C E P T A N C E.

It’s messy.  You’ve never done this before.  You don’t know how to do it.  No one else can do this for you and it won’t be pretty.  It can be up and down.  Back and forth.  A process of three steps forward, two steps backward.  Many of you are familiar with the phases of grief – shock, denial, bargaining, anger, depression/sadness and then finally, acceptance.  It is a process that takes time.  We can’t hurry it up.  We must experience it in our own way and our own pace.  If we ignore it and sweep our emotions under the rug they will fester.  It will only get worse and come out in other ways.  It can even make us sick.

I would like to make a suggestion.  Don’t try and do this alone.  Alone is not good.  Alone is so isolating.  Alone is so much harder.  There are several things you could do:

1)  Talk to a counselor, your pastor or a trusted friend who won’t look down on you as you process your feelings.

2) If you like to write, keep a journal as you go through this time. It can be very healing.

3)  Join a support group.  I’d like to say a little more about this below.

There are many parents out there who understand you and are going through the same thing!  You are NOT alone!  Really!   It is so comforting to get together and discover it’s not just you who is having these problems!  We are all so embarassed that we don’t say a word to anyone and suffer unnecessarily in solitude.  We can help each other so much!  So go find a support group to be part of or start one yourself!  (If you think you might want to start one but need help and ideas, my husband and I can help you or your church get one started for your community!)  We are hoping to see thousands get started all over the country because there is such a huge need and not a lot of support out there.  Send me a message with your email and we will contact with you.  Al-Anon or Nar-Anon have great support groups, even if you aren’t dealing with a substance problem!  The same principles apply to any situation.  There are other Christian groups with 12 step recovery programs, too, like Celebrate Recovery.  You can google “parent support” groups and see what is in your area.

May God direct you to the help you need as you process your grief and move towards acceptance.  There is such peace there waiting for you!  If I found it, you can too.

This Bible verse encourages me so much, “By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me —  a prayer to the God of my life.”  (Psalms 42:8)

What if you were Casey Anthony’s Parents?

I was so surprised to hear the not guilty verdict yesterday.  Maybe because I live in Orlando I’ve been thinking a lot about Casey Anthony’s parents lately.  No one knows the truth about what happened except Casey and God (and maybe her dad) but it sounds like her parents have had a long road of dealing with disappointment, shock, denial, anger, resentment, heartache, guilt, shame, worry, fear and grief.  I can only imagine they have spent a lot of effort trying to change her, trying to fix her, trying to help her . . . many of us can relate to that.  Bottom line, we are powerless to change anyone.  It hurts so bad.  We want to so desperately.  We would be willing to do anything, but our children make their own choices just like we do.

So what now?  I don’t know how the Anthony’s will move ahead with their lives and cope with all they’ve been through.  What about you?  How do you cope?  The Serenity Prayer has helped me.  “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.”  We need to move toward acceptance and the realization that we can’t change anyone but ourselves (and that’s not very easy).

We need to accept that we were not the perfect parent.  We may have contributed in some way to our child’s problems.  Maybe we now realize we owe them an apology for some things we’ve done or neglected to do, but ultimately they make their own decisions.  No matter how good of a parent we were it didn’t prevent our child’s rebellion or the problems they have had that we were never aware of.

We can drive ourselves crazy trying to figure out “why?”  Did we show them and tell them enough that we loved them?  Did we give them enough attention?  Did we have reasonable boundaries with appropriate consequences?  Were we too lenient?  Too harsh?  Did they get enough time, attention, disciple and prayer?  Of course not!  No parent does it all perfectly!  Impossible!   But we did our best and our imperfections did not cause our child to do what they are doing.  We must refuse to accept responsibility for their choices.

We need to accept our child as they are today – what if they never change or what if it takes years?  Accept that we are powerless to change them. Work on having realistic expectations of them in our relationship.  Keep as a priority preserving a loving relationship with them.  Above all else we want them to know we will always be there for them (but we will not enable) and we will always love them, even if we cannot give our approval of their choices if they violate our values and beliefs.

We need hope.  It’s so easy to lose it.  The Bible has something to say to parents in pain who need hope:

“Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears: for your work will be rewarded, says the Lord;

and they (your children) will come again from the land of the enemy.  So there is hope in the end for you, says the Lord,

that your children will come again to their own border.”  (Jeremiah 31:16-17)

That’s what we all need to hear.  There is hope for you and for your child!  There IS hope!