Thursday, December 30, 2010

Romans 8:28

As this year comes to a close, it is  interesting to look back at the year and look at where we've been, appreciate any good changes, and look forward in the hopes of making other changes.  There is nothing like a life changing event to really shake you out of complacency. 

Last January, I would never have imagined that we would be where we are today.  Oddly enough, my son's addiction has been a gift to our family in many ways.  I would never have imagined how this could be until I went through this.  When a child, even an adult one, faces such a life threatening crisis, you will either roll over in the fetal position and give up or you will throw caution to the wind and fight like never before.  I must admit that I did find myself in the fetal position from time to time, but, only long enough to gather myself, pray for strength and direction, get mad and get up swinging. 

This year has taught me so much.  I have truly understood for the first time ever that I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, in control.  I have learned to trust God and to stop fighting for control.  I have learned that I will not survive peacefully, unless I have surrendered my all to Christ.  I now know that even the most trivial (in my mind) of sins, separates me from God.  I know that miracles happen, big and small, when I follow God's will. 

This year I joined Al anon.  It is one of my life's greatest blessings.  Al Anon teaches me to take care of myself.  It teaches me to stop taking God's teachable moments away from my son.  It has taught me to allow God to restore sanity to my life.  It has taught me to mind my own business.  It has introduced me to such amazing people.  It has given me a wonderful safety net of people who know all about what I'm going through. 

This disease has brought me closer to friends and family.  It has shown me how loved and blessed that I really am.  It has made me more mindful of how important it is to constantly pray for my loved ones.  Since I'm not so busy trying to fix my son, I've started to dream again.  I've started to pursue some of my interests again.  I am excited for the first time in a long time. 

My husband and I are truly a team.  This disease has brought us so much closer.  He is learning through Alanon in a men's meeting.  We are learning to really follow God's will in every aspect of our family, business, and home life.  We are finally growing.  No more stuck in neutral or even going in reverse. 

Now, don't get me wrong, I am not happy that my son suffers from the effects of addiction.  I wish that he had never tried the first thing.  But, he did.  It is what it is.  It is the past.  Today, I am thankful that I was finally able to take a life experience that God gave me and actually learn something.  This time, after a few "poor me's", I stopped and asked "ok, what do I do?''  "Show me the way, Lord."  And guess what, he answered.  He didn't leave detailed instructions.  No, it was more like, trust me with him first....then I received peace.  Then it was a gift of sharing this story with all of you...then I had a desire to pursue writing and I received such closeness from you all and the gifts of your prayers.  Then my husband and I stripped away all of the useless unimportant aspects of our lives, tossed them in the can and are starting fresh.....that is so hopeful. 

I look back at 2010, and feel blessed.  I really do.  I feel excited.  I feel like shouting....Look what God CAN do!!  On July 25, 2010, I could never have imagined that this is how I'd feel, but I do.  On that date, I learned a truth that had been haunting my son for some time.  It is always best to get truth out in the open and deal with it.  I began by feeling paralyzed with fear and now feel comfort and joy.  Thanks be to God.  I look so forward to what's to come.  I can hardly wait to see what God will do this year.  My faith has grown....maybe not enough but it is growing.  Life is good. 

My son has a job.  He is excited.  He is making it on his own.  I'm not doing anything to support him except remind him that I love him and know that he can do it.  His confidence is growing.  My confidence in him is growing...little by little.  I think 2011 is gonna be amazing.  But, 2010 was pretty good too. 

Today my prayers are of Thanksgiving for my family, friends who are my family too, my son's sobriety, my husband's will to do what's right, my girls strength, my Al anon family, and for all of the gifts of health for my family members.  I don't really need black eyed peas or tamales for good luck this year (but I want them...).  I will continue praying for each of you in the new year and as always for Henry.  In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Gifts of Christmas

This was my first Christmas.  Okay, not my first day to celebrate Christmas, but my first day to really get Christmas for what it really is.  I feel such joy that I feel as if I might explode.  I want to dance in the snow. I want to shout at the top of my lungs.  I have been richly spoiled this Christmas.  I do not deserve it.  I am so very thankful.

Last night, we took our children out to dinner.  We took ALL of our children out to dinner.  It was not perfect.  It was even awkward at times.  But, it was an opportunity to really see what God has been doing while we have been sitting in the dark.  We have been swinging between peaceful and frantic.  We have been stripped down.  We have had to give up our child to get a chance to get him back.  But, last night, I saw him.  I saw my real, authentic, clean, healthy, clear headed son.  He is even clearer than he was right after rehab.  I saw potential.  I saw possibilities.  I saw a young man instead of a compromised boy.  I saw hope.

It is not a done deal.  All is not safe, I know.  But, I see the handiwork of God.  I see miracles that I didn't even fathom.  It could be fearful to think of losing this again.  I am not afraid today.  Today, I am appreciating this gift.  You see, when my son left, I expected the worse.  Because, that is what I got when I was handling it on my own.  But, now he is in the hands of God and the beauty that comes from that touch was reflected last night.  It lit the room.  It has my heart ablaze with joy.

I got other gifts too.  I have this amazing circle of earthly angels praying for us, all of the time.  I am the richest person in town.  It is so amazing to me that when you change your focus from things of this earth to things of God, how you can truly feel joy.  It makes you want less material things because the "high" of receiving the gifts from God is unlike anything...ever!!!

Today my prayers are of Thanksgiving.  I am thankful to see that my son is still there.  I am thankful that there is hope.  I am so thankful for my friends and earthly angels.  I pray for strength to continue this long journey.  I pray to keep my eyes lifted up.  I pray for all of you, for health, happiness and strength to do what God has in store for you.  And, as always, a prayer for Henry.  In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Friday, December 24, 2010

In Process.....

Recovering from addiction is a journey.  We have been told many times that it is long journey.  It really isn't something that anyone really wants to hear.  In Al Anon, we learn that we also have a disease.  Our journey is also a long one.  This family disease is taking us all up and down the hills of recovery and around winding curves of understanding.  I say all of this to serve as a reminder that any one event that occurs is not the make or break event.  We are not (thankfully) a Lifetime movie where all is solved in 2 hours.  Our ending isn't one glamorous climactic ending. 

If we live our lives according to God's will, we may someday learn to stop looking for the "final" answer or the conclusion to the cliffhanger.  We may take the day or the moment and cherish it.  I have been praying really hard to know what to do next. 

I have had three people in the last few days pose the question to me, "what if he's not using?''  I have already totally subscribed to the theory that an addict will lie and lie.  So, I have ignored his telling me that he was clean.  Christmas is a hard time to be estranged from any loved one.  My husband and I were ready to trudge through this holiday without him, if it would be best for him.  Then, we received a visit from his 80 yr old grandfather, who is terribly hurt by all of this.  He has a hard time with our cutting him off.  This was very upsetting to our entire family.  We all want what's best for my son.  We all just have different ideas of how to do this.  This question of whether or not he was using started to nag at me a bit.  We had those mad because we didn't do enough and those mad because we did too much.  It makes your head swirl and makes you question.  I had to slow down and pray.  Then, out of the blue, I heard myself ask my husband if he wanted to go see my son to check on him, unannounced, so that we would truly see him as he is.  He too had been questioning, so he was all for going.

My heart began to pick up speed the closer we got.  I began to question myself.  I began to pray.  Am I doing this for only my sanity?  Will this set us back?  I prayed for guidance.  I prayed for a sign.  I prayed for my son.  We knocked and knocked on the door.  I didn't think he was home.  Then he came to the door.  He was instantly upset.  He said that he was getting over the loss of us and now here we were and it would be hard again.  Real stirred my heart but I was still unsure.  We took him to coffee and talked for about two hours.  It was awkward.  It is hard to trust.  But, he was taking care of himself.  He looked and sounded good, clean and sober.  He often got emotional.  He never asked for anything.  He was just hurt that we would cut him off.  But, I don't regret it.  Sometimes you must lose something to appreciate it. 

Do I think he has recovered?  I think he is in recovery.  I think that when he relapsed, he was in recovery.  He needed to see first hand that he could not do this.  Has he learned that lesson?  He thinks so but, maybe one day he will be strong and think he can do it and slip again.  Maybe not.  I don't know.  I think he is in process.  I think we are in process.   We are not defined by single events or moments in time, but by the sum of those moments and days and the direction we take.  No one can say we are good or bad.  No one, but God, knows the hearts of me or you or my son.  No one can say that this is good or bad.  It was for me a chance to check on him.  If he looked bad, I wanted another chance to fight for his life.  If he looked good, I wanted him to know we loved him so much.  I got to tell him.  I got to hug him.  I got to see that he still loved and missed us.  It was a gift.  I have still given him to God.  I still think he has a long journey.  But, I thank God for yesterday.  It was not the moment of surrender to go to rehab, he wasn't a dramatically totally turned around guy.  It was a step or two in a good direction.  I am thankful.  Merry Christmas to me. 

I want to leave you with this tale that was read to me at a family outpatient meeting.  I think it is important to remember the moral of this story in each of our lives and be grateful for all of the small victories, instead of holding out for the big finale.  Somehow I don't think our Lord writes for Hollywood.  His works are far better.  We just need the faith and patience to appreciate his works. 

A Chinese farmer has a stallion. One day the stallion runs away. The village people come to him and say, "Ah, such bad luck!"
The farmer shrugs, "Good luck, bad luck, who knows?"
A few days later the stallion returns with three mares. The village people come to him and say, "Ah, such good luck!"
The farmer shrugs, "Good luck, bad luck, who knows?"
The next week the farmer's son breaks his leg taming the wild mares. The village people come to him and say, "Ah, such bad luck!"
The farmer shrugs, "Good luck, bad luck, who knows?"
A month later the Chinese army comes and demands all the young men soldier age. The farmer's son does not have to go because of his leg. The village people come to him and say, "Ah, such good luck!"
The farmer shrugs, "Good luck, bad luck, who knows?"
And so it goes...

Today I am thankful for the son.  I am thankful for my son.  I am thankful for this small victory.  I am thankful that my son just got a full time job.  More lessons from the ultimate teacher.  I pray for your Christmas miracle.  I pray for each moment to be fully appreciated.  And, I pray for the soul of Henry.  In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fiat Lux

5:38pm CST today is but a moment in time.  It is a moment that is quilted with rich layers of meaning.   When God said let there be light, it brings up connotations of coming home late at night on a cloudy gray evening and after stumbling around feeling for the switch,  we are given sudden vision.  Before finding that switch, it can be a little frightening not knowing where you're stepping.  My mind can instantly write an astounding number of horror filled scenarios, with  terrible images of people lying in wait, standing just ready to lunge for me.  The instant that the room is flooded with light, there is instant relief. 

Sunlight gives us vitamin D.  It grows our vegetables.  It provides warmth.  It can be stored up and used for power.   Sunlight affects our bodies cortisol levels.  It affects our mood.  Light therapy is now used to treat swelling and pain. 

"God is light and in him is no darkness at all."   The calendar is set up to put an end to the lengthening nights and the shortening days at the time of Christ's birth.  His birth allows us to have the hope of heaven and an end to darkness.  These ideas of light permeate me with great curiosity.  While I do not understand the scientific principals regarding light, my heart believes that Christ represents this illumination that is so much bigger than our imaginations could ever fathom. 

This season makes my heart homesick for my son.  I live in utter darkness.  I don't really know how or what he's doing.  I don't know if he's eating.  I don't know what or how much he's using.  I don't know and probably don't want to know how he is surviving.  I don't know if he will ever decide to get help.  I don't know if I will hear from him on Christmas.  But, I do know that there will be a light at the end of this tunnel.  I know it because we are told to ask for the desires of our hearts, according to God's will, and it will be given to us.  I don't know how or when it will be given to me, but when it is, it will be like the light flooding the room with light.  It will be an instant feeling of safety.  It will be my Christmas. 

Today, I pray for God's light to help my son find his way home.  I thank him for both the symbolic and actual increase in light in my days ahead.  I thank him for all those little lights of friendship and prayer that he is placing along our path.  I pray for my granddaddy Henry and for the Henry in your family that his heart will also warm to the light of Christ.  In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Wisdom of Mary

9346-wedding-at-cana-duccio-di-buoninsegna.jpgToday is one week before Christmas.  I find myself struggling a lot lately.  I think it is because I am like a spiritual two year old.  While it is great to have childlike faith, I'm fairly certain that the immature selfish feelings I have are not something I should aspire to.  I want my son to go to rehab and I want it now.  I have been stamping my foot in prayer thinking that I should have my son at least hit bottom and want the treatment by Christmas.  Then, I switched to, I don't even know what or how to pray for my son so I'll just take to the recliner, dogs on my lap and ignore my life.  Then, I got mad and decided to start a fight with anyone who I felt contributed to the drug culture in anyway (see previous post).  You see I am the child who left the room when she didn't get her way, then decided to throw a fit for attention to get her way.  God is patient.  He didn't yell at me.  He just waited for me to wind down and be ready to listen.  Now, I am asking, "what do I do now?"

First, I read a blog about advent.  I learned for the ___th time that this season is about me pushing through all of the inconsistencies of my life, dealing with my sinful nature and most importantly, I need to wait.  Then I went to mass.  After mass I was reading about praying.  This article that I read discussed all of the effective ways to pray.  It mentioned the importance of private prayers, prayers we know from childhood, those we read and most importantly, the rosary.  Mary can ask for us the things that we need.    When I pray, I typically ask for what I want, without little regard for what's best.  I may throw in an obligatory, "if it be your will."  I may even mean it sometimes.  Other times, if I am totally honest, I am saying it, hoping that because I've said that, then I will be granted my desires.  It is such a struggle.  How foolish is it,  that I am trying to manipulate God.

When Mary had a problem, she pointed it out.  She didn't tell Jesus how to fix the problem.  No, she knew that she didn't have the supernatural vision that he did.  She had such complete faith, that his way would be so much more than any solution she could come up with.  At the wedding in Canaan, she simply pointed out that they were out of wine.  She didn't say, so send a few fellas after more.  She didn't say, be sure they get this kind or that kind.  She pointed out that the wine was gone.  Jesus not only replenished the wine, but he made sure that it was the best wine.  Why can't I quit telling him to send my son to rehab?  I really want that complete faith.  I'm trying.

Today my prayer is this, my son is a drug addict.  My son is chose drugs over you, Lord, over his family, over everything.  My son is living such a dangerous life.  I am so fearful.  I miss him.  Please help him.  Please help us.  Please help me to hear your words, live your will and help grow my faith.  I also pray for all others who live with addiction.  And as always, I pray for Henry.  In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Stark Raving MAD!!!!

Whatever street you live on, you can count on every third house being affected by addiction.  To me, that is an astounding figure.  I must admit, I really never seriously paid adequate attention to all of the education that is out there on drug abuse, until now.  Now my radar is on high frequency. 

Do you remember the war on drugs?  I sort of do.  I just don't quite know what that war involved.  I do know that in the border towns of Mexico that the police are even afraid of the drug lords.  I know that these are huge battles that need more attention paid to them.  And, even as mad as I am over this disease, I'm not stupid enough to think that I could take them on.  But, there are other battles that I can wage. 

Right here in my hometown, I have been in three convenience stores that sell these pipes that I think are called bongs.  To me, I do not know why these wouldn't be considered paraphernalia.  I have never in all of my 46 years, seen anyone ever use one with tobacco products.  The one time I saw someone looking at them in the store it was four high school/college aged boys and I highly doubt that they were thinking of using a fine tobacco product in them.  In fact, one of those boys wore sunglasses inside and the other had nothing but hundred dollar bills in his wallet as he was paying.

I have learned that these pipes are only considered paraphernalia if they are being sold near marijuana.  When we are carded when we buy white out, have to show our licenses for cold and flu products, why shouldn't we have some restriction on buying a bong for heaven's sake?  Today, I went into the convenience store and took pictures of the bongs.  The owner came out, grabbed my arm, tried to get me to come back in the store and made me delete the pictures.  He was a big angry man.....bullying a middle aged woman.  What does that say to you?  To me, it says he knows it's wrong and doesn't care.  But, I care.  I am refusing to spend money in a store that sells paraphernalia.  I am going to draw as much attention to those that do as is legally allowed. 

There is a great problem out there.  The drug culture is much bigger than any of us probably realize.  I think it is a very violent one.  I think we all need to fight it in one way or another to protect each others kids.  I am going to pray for the wisdom to help in the way that our Lord wants me to.  For now, I need to check my anger at the door.  I need to be sure that I am trying to help the innocents and spiritually poor and not strike back because of my loss. 

It's hard to keep your motivations pure.  I will keep praying.  I will keep waiting.  I will try to bring more attention to this problem.  It is so important.  Today, I pray for calm.  I pray for guidance.  I pray for my son to want help.  I pray for God to break through so that he can want help.  And, I pray for Henry.  In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


As the holidays are approaching and the weather becomes a little bit frightful, then my mama bear instincts to protect and gather in my cubs ramps up a bit.  I've become rather impatient.  I've become out of sorts.  I've gone back to pleading with God. 

The wind is howling as I type.  I know that my son has no money.  I know that what he is getting to eat is bummed or stolen.  I know that his need to be separate from his family must come from addiction.  I know that most people who didn't have a job, phone, car or money, would not choose to live away unless there was an addictive, mind altering pull that made you give up everything good for you.  I know that he must feel terribly lost.  I know he probably feels hopeless. 

This is a hard reality to face.  I have been less than peaceful today.  I keep praying and begging.  I have been wanting what I want on my time.  This disturbs me because it means that I am selfish and lacking the faith that I need to have. 

Sin is an ugly thing.  It can be small and subtle.  It can be for me gluttony(with all of these holiday goodies) or sloth(with this cold weather).  It can be complaining about others instead of trying to bring happiness to others.  I find that in even these small things, I move ever so slightly away from God.  It is when this occurs that I lose my peace.  It is when I start lacking faith.  The biggest problem of all is when I am selfish.  I have decided to pray for blinders. 

Blinders are these flaps that they put on a horse's bridle that keep the horse from seeing off to the sides.  This makes the horse look straight ahead instead of looking at all of the distractions.  For a race horse this allows them to keep moving forward and not spooking at all of the other things going on all around.

I'd love to have blinders on so that I wouldn't look at others and think...well their family is all together for Christmas.  I want blinders on so that I won't think about all that he is giving up to live for addiction.  I want blinders on so that I will stop thinking about self. 

I need to look straight ahead and see what God can do.  I want the faith to look ahead and know that God isn't finished teaching him yet.  I want the peace back that is a gift when you trust.  I am working on my sinful nature.  I am fighting as hard as I know how. 

Today my prayer is for blinders for myself.  I pray that God helps my son deep down beyond the addiction to fight for his life and his soul.  I pray for my son to want help.  I pray for all of you to be closer to our God as we wait on our Lord.  And, I pray for Henry.  In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Using the Lessons of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Yesterday was the feast of the Immaculate Conception.  It was a little confusing at first to understand.  But, now I realize that it has to do with the fact that Mary was chosen at the point of her conception to be free from sin so that she could be the temple for Christ before he was born.  It is about her being clean and blemish free. 

I think that there are lessons everywhere.  I am always saying the little prayer (especially when I am feeling out of sorts), "please show me you will and help me to hear your words."  So, last night at mass, as I am listening to the readings and then the homily, I decided that the lesson here is to be vigilant about sin.  I must constantly pay attention to even the little things.  I must go to confession more often.  If I don't then
 I am not clean.  I am not an appropriate temple for the holy spirit.  I am distant from our Lord.  I am out of sorts. 

This out of sorts feeling is one that feels lost and lonely.  It is because my sins are separating me from God.  This is where I go to confession and start over.  This is where I stop looking at myself and start looking to others.  This is my lesson for this day. 

Today I pray for my son whom I miss more than I can say.  It is for my family to cope in a way that is pleasing to God.  It is for my son to have the courage and will to make a radical life change.  It is for all those of you who need vision to do God's will and it is for Henry.  In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Today is 18 days before Christmas.  In ways, I still feel like a little girl.  I remember waiting for Christmas and hoping that the gifts all wrapped up would be the things that I had dreamed about.  I couldn't wait to open them up.  I would sit under the tree and size them up one by one, shaking them, trying to decide what they might be.  I would daydream about what I would do with each particular gift.  I never was very good at being patient.  As one Dominican priest once told me, then God will give you more opportunities to practice patience!!

I've often wondered how Mary felt just before Jesus was born.  When I was expecting my son, my first born, I grew very impatient.  I felt so large.  I was so tired.  I tried exercise.  I tried walking.  I tried gardening, but instead of labor pains, I just got a sore back and sore muscles.  I bet Mary was a lot more spiritually mature than I will ever be.  I think I should just follow her lead and trust more. 

All that I want for Christmas, is for my son to go to rehab.  I want him to return to God and to our family.  I want him to return to God but I worry that it will take rehab and some degree of sobriety for him to get there, maybe not.  God can do anything.As you can see,   I'm still rattling the packages.  Trying to figure out something that is not my business.  I am trying to decide what God will put in my Christmas package.  Will he go to treatment?  Will this take far longer?  I don't know why I can't just trust a little more. 

I guess the best thing to do is to pray more each day.  I will pray for the desires of my heart and the patience and trust for God to help me along my path to Bethlehem.  Today, I also pray for all those who are sick and suffering.  I pray for my son to feel the love of God and find his way back to him.  I pray for Henry and those like Henry.  In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

My Prodigal Son and I

The younger son said to his father, "Father, let me have the share of the estate that will come to me.."  So the father divided the property between them.  A few days later, the younger son got together everything he had and left for a distant country where he squandered his money on a life of debauchery.
When he had spent it all, that country experienced a severe famine, and now he began to feel the pinch so he hired himself out to one of the local inhabitants who put him on his farm to feed the pigs.  And he would willingly have filled himself with the husks the pigs were eating but no one would let him have them.  Then he came to his senses and said, "How many of my father's hired men have all the food they want and more, and here I am dying of hunger!  I will leave this place and go to my father and say:  Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;  I no longer deserve to be called your son;  treat me as one of your hired men.:  So he left the place and went back to his father. 

Henri J. M. Nouwen was a catholic priest who wrote the book, The Return of the Prodigal Son.  I bought and read that book several years ago.  I loved it because he talked about how we can all be  the son and the father and the brother.  Nouwen saw a poster of Rembrandt's painting and it was so moving for him that he got permission to sit in front of the actual painting for several hours to study it.  He also heard reactions of those who came by to look at it.  It spoke to him at the very core.  It speaks to me too.

My son has left this family.  He chose to do it.  Initially, it was hurtful that he was able to leave a place where we provided for and loved this child.  Our intentions were only good for him in this place.  Yet, he left it for a life of debauchery.  In my mind's eye, this could not be understood.  It was more than just leaving, it was a disrespect of all that he had been taught.  He was cutting loose from the families way of thinking and being and doing.  Having lost both of my parents, I couldn't fathom willingly giving up that unconditional love.  Or could I? 

Today I picked up my old book and skimmed over it again.  Nouwen describes both Rembrandt and himself as the son.  He talks of a spiritual leaving home.  When we choose a life that searches for happiness in money or success or personal comfort are we choosing to belong to God or to the world?  If we are looking for unconditional love from those of this world and base our happiness on being loved because we are smart or pretty or are serving their need at a particular point in time, will I ever find happiness?  Will I be "hooked" to trying harder and in a different way to gain love and acceptance from this world?  I will be a slave to all of the hurdles I am trying to jump through to get something that is unattainable.  When Nouwen describes this as addiction, I thought,  Oh my, I am the prodigal son.  I am no different than my son.  I am looking for acceptance and comfort in all the wrong places.  I have squandered my inheritance. 

The father could not force his son to stay home.  He knew that he must allow him to find his own way even though the cost could be great.  But, the great blessing was that not matter how many times he would leave, the father would be there to welcome him home with outstretched arms.  This is what our heavenly Father does for us over and over again.

Counselors speak about the need to hit bottom.  I have heard it over and over again.  It is now what we are waiting on to occur.  Leaving home takes you farther and farther from love.  It becomes harder and harder to live in the world that will entangle you in manipulations and struggles of this world.  There becomes no one to trust.  There is no one who truly cares unless you can be used for something that they want.  You stop seeing those that you might have something in common with.   Life looses meaning.  This isolation and loneliness, this feeling of no where to turn is the only way that opens your eyes to what you might have lost.  It is in this place that you might discover your true self. 

I know these things.  I have been in this place...and not too long ago.  I worried more about success in our business, who quit using us, who liked using us.  I forgot that this business isn't personal.  It is a means to pay for our needs.  Nothing more, nothing less.  I spent too much money when times were better.  I could have saved that for leaner times, but I squandered my inheritance.  I put more focus on financial gain that the time spent with my children....I left my country.  But, four months ago, after watching my son come home high as a kite, belligerent, irrational and worried for his life.  I made a turn in my path.  I watched my son in a drug hazed condition, shave his head, because he thought it would be more comfortable.  I watched this shell that was once my beautiful little boy mutilate himself.  I decided then and there, that my life had become meaningless.  I decided then and there that if God would help me back on the path towards Him, that I would look in the right place for love.  

I am still traveling back to where I can say that I am not worthy and hope to be taken back in.  I am praying on this day, that my son will soon find the place at the bottom and when he does, I pray that he will make the right choice.  I am thankful for this lesson.  I am thankful for prayer.  I am thankful for the bottom for it is from that place that I see the most clearly.  Today I pray that we all continue our daily journey with the Father.  I am thankful for all of the prayers said on our behalf.  And as always, I pray for Henry.  In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Casting Out

My husband is a great horseman.  I think he sometimes understands them better than he understands me.  He has taught me so much about their behavior.  To me, it seems as though we really aren't that far off from them with regard to our families.  In a Ferrel horse population, certain herd behaviors seem to exist.  Typically there is a lead mare who decides where they go, the route they take, she is responsible for finding water and teaching the young.  She is always out front and the rest of the herd follows her lead.  The stallion usually takes up the rear.  His job is to watch out for predators, protect the herd and continue to breed mares.  Usually there is only one stallion unless there is one young one who is allowed to be there who will take over when the other stallion becomes too old or is hurt.

With the mare taking charge, she also makes sure that all of the young horses are learning proper behavior. If a young horse gets out of line, she may warn him by laying her ears back, a little bite or if it is bad, maybe kicking at him.  If the horse really misbehaves, he is sent out of the herd.  Since there is safety in numbers, being alone is a very frightening endeavor.   It takes sometime outside the herd before he is allowed back in.

Dealing with a child who is an addict, you must be willing to change every thought you've ever had with regard to caring for you child.  We have fed, clothed, protected, taught, cheered, and loved no matter what. So, the idea of saying, "go away, don't come back until you want treatment", can seem so wrong.  It is very hard to say, "I don't know how you will get a job without a car or a phone."  It can be very hard letting go, knowing that he doesn't have money for groceries or laundry or anything.  But, it was his choice.  And he chose that lifestyle.  He knew up front what his options were.  Now he just has to really understand that we will stand by those consequences.  He needs a little time outside this family and the safety of it, to really understand the choice that he made.

Even in our domestic horses, our horse decides to act up a little when my husband goes out to catch her, he doesn't chase after her or try to bribe her with feed or treats.  He waves his hands and yells at her to go away.  He doesn't let her stop.  He keeps her moving.  He is part of her herd.  He keeps her away from the safety of his care.  He is correcting her.  He is teaching her the consequences of her behavior.  He is doing it so she will ultimately be a safe horse to handle.  She will find security in his leading her in the right direction.

True success is found when we create opportunities for others.  We must look at this as correction for our son that will create opportunities for him to gain knowledge and experience of dealing with his own natural consequences  of his actions.  This is how we can help him to succeed.  This how we can hopefully bring him back into our family one day.  We must remember that we are so much more than this particular circumstance.  My son is so much more than the circumstance he finds himself in.  We just won't know how much more until the veil of addiction has been lifted.

Today I am so thankful for the peace and strength that God has given me so that I can send my son away.  I am thankful that God has given me examples in his creation that show me that this is also a way of loving my son.  I am thankful for our family and the strides that we are all taking to do the right thing. I pray for my son and as always, for Henry.  In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Fullness of Time

When I was pregnant with my son, I had a number of ultrasound exams. They measured the circumference of his head and the length of his femur to determine the due date.  His measurements were inconsistent.  I was given a due date of May 1st and then I was given May 30th.  I was so determined to know when this would all occur that I asked God for a sign.  I had one of those devotional books where each day had a reading and a story.  I read each day from May 1st to May 31st hoping to see my sign.  On May 14th, it was mother's day and the story had something to do with the blessing of being a mother.  I skipped right over that day and paid no attention to it.  I could not find my sign.  My son was born on mother's day.  I'm sure God had a little chuckle.

Now I wait on my son for another reason.  I wait for him "to find in the power of our saving God strength for a radical life change." (Pope Benedict's prayer intention for November)  I wait for him to return to God first.  I wait for him to seek treatment and I wait for him to return to his family last.  I have found myself growing impatient from time to time.  I don't find myself panicking.  I do feel calm.  I do feel peace.  I must remain patient.  I must remind myself that if things go too fast, then both my family and my son may not get some great lessons that God has planned for us all. 

Today my devotional books are called, In Conversation with God,by Francis Fernandez.  Today's reading reminds me that, "we lose our peace through sin, through pride and by not being sincere with ourselves and with God.  Peace can also be lost through impatience; when we are unable to see the providential hand of God in times of difficulty and contradiction.  Today, I am paying attention.  I am listening.  I am willing to wait.  I am reminded of Romans 8:28; that in everything God works for good for those who love him.  I am even hopeful.  This is advent.  I feel it heart and soul. 

My son e-mailed me today.  He wanted me to mail him a coat.  I decided not to respond.  I decided that most adults,  who had chosen to cut them selves off from their families would take what they needed when they left.  He has chosen this path.  He was told the consequences of this choice.  I will not take that away from him.  I have the strength and confidence to do this....thanks be to God.  He is the only reason for this gift of peace.

So, I will wait for the fullness of time to arrive.  I will marvel at the number of people who are helping to carry us along this journey.  They are checking on us.  They are praying and praying and praying.  The gifts just keep coming.  We are so lucky. 

I am so thankful for this peace.  I am thankful for my friends and my family.  They are so good to us.  I pray for all of you who pray for us.  I pray for those who face addiction.  I pray for my son to learn every lesson that God has for him.  And, as always, a prayer for Henry.  In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Today is the first Sunday of Advent.  It the beginning of the liturgical year.  This is the season where we wait for Christ.  We are trying to understand the waiting from the standpoint of those who awaited the actual birth of our Lord and hopefully will learn to prepare ourselves for the time when he returns. 

Most people are busy at this time of year,  very busy making lists for cards and gifts.  They plan special holiday menus for family gatherings.  They are waiting until the big day when they can present those they love with something that was just picked out for them.   We are trying to prepare every detail for the Christmas that we see on television and in the stores.  If we were truly preparing for Christ, then instead of those tasks, we'd be preparing our souls to get ready for Christ.  We'd be prayerfully making a list of our sins so that we could offer them in confession, where in return we'd receive the gift of absolution.  We'd be lifting our hearts to God's will for us.  We'd try a little harder to say yes to all of the hard things that God might want us to do.  We'd be living to serve.

When we serve God, we always seem to receive gifts in return.  They are the most amazing gifts of all.  They are not anything we would ever imagine.  They are impossible to describe in a way that shows how great they really are.  My favorite modern day servant was Mother Teresa.  She lived her life for whatever God wanted her to do.  He told her to serve the poorest of the poor.  She founded her mission on Christ teaching that whatever you did to the least of these, you did unto me.

Mother Teresa cared for the dying, the lepers and orphans.  She saw starvation and poverty that most Americans will never see.  She warned Americans that their poverty was far greater and harder to deal with than the poverty in India.  "The spiritual poverty of the western world is much greater than the physical poverty of our people', she said.  She felt that there was a loneliness and emptiness among so many of our people.  There is an absence of God.  There are drugs and abortions and greed.  All of these things are a desire to fill a void that only God can fill.

I have so loved Mother Teresa.  I felt like I had learned so much from her teachings and yet right here in my own home, my son is one of "the least of these."  He is spiritually impoverished.  I am learning first hand just how difficult this type of poverty is to deal with.  I am learning how little I really knew and how little I had really centered my life around Christ.

Along this journey, I have met a lot of alcoholics and addicts and their families.  They are some of the most wonderful people I've ever met.  I would have never looked in their eyes before to try and see the eyes of God, like Mother Teresa did to those she served in India.  I would not have learned that it is most rewarding to do these hard things.

I am waiting for my son to hit bottom.  I am waiting for him to want treatment.  I am waiting for him to return to God.  But, while I wait, I am going to prepare.  I am going to take inventory of my sins and work on a plan to serve the spiritually poor.  I am going to pray and study and wait.  I am going to do what I can.  As this gets tougher before it gets better, I am grateful because this means that we are moving closer to the bottom.  We are moving closer to a place where miracles that only come from God can occur.

Today I am so thankful for God's presence in my life.  I am thankful for the many gifts that God gives.  I am thankful for this season of anticipation.  I pray for all of you who pray for us.  I pray for my son to softly hit bottom and have the courage to go back to treatment.  I am so thankful for the example of Mother Teresa.  And, as always I pray for Henry and all of you who have faced addiction.  In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


There are a lot of ways to look at things.  Perspective is powerful.  Limited knowledge can certainly affect perspective.  Faith can counter that lack of understanding.  This is a very different Thanksgiving.  My history of Thanksgiving has gone from one filled with parents, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandmother to today filled with only my husband and two of my three children. 

I loved Thanksgiving growing up.  My dad always built a huge roaring fire in the fireplace.  My mom cooked for days.  We anticipated my favorite cousins coming into town.  We watched the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade.  We ate until we couldn't move.  We played and laughed and talked.  When my mother died, it was such a sad holiday because we were trying so hard to replicate something that we couldn't.  Then, we tried to wildly change it so that it would be different.  When my dad died, we stopped gathering as a family.  My brother's and sister's children were starting their own families. 

Now, my children are older.  My daughter came home from college yesterday.  My senior in high school has a break from high school.  My son has been told not to call or come home unless he wants to go to treatment.  My feelings about this have wavered between those of being a little sad to those of peace.  I think that they have settled on those of being grateful.  I am trying to stop reacting and just act.  I pray for guidance. 

That may seem very strange, but I now have a very different perspective.  Perspective is based on your view of things.  It is based on the limited knowledge you may have about something.  Before, my idea of caring for my son meant protecting him from himself.  Now, my idea of caring for my son is to allow him to learn the lessons for himself.  The lessons that God has for only him.  My idea of caring, when I get a little sad, is to remember that I have helped to perpetuate the place that we find ourselves in.  God can teach and heal and love unlike I will ever be able to. 

I am so thankful on this Thanksgiving day that God has given me the courage to give my son up.  I have placed him in the hands of God.  I have such faith and hope of the goodness that can come from our heavenly Father.  I am so thankful that we have learned what our problem is.  I am thankful for the first go round of rehab.  I am thankful that our family is seeking counseling and attending meetings.  I am thankful that we are healing individually and as a family because this will help my son to heal.  Oddly enough, this great family tragedy has made me see that I can only put God first.  I thought that I was before, but my eyes have been opened. 

This day is so very different.  It isn't anything like the Thanksgiving pasts. It is new and fresh and one where I am seeking the will of God for this day.  I don't want to forget my history.  It is filled with dear memories.  I just know that life isn't static.  I can now accept that.  I am thankful that I can throw away these crazy Hallmark card notions of what Thanksgiving "should" be and will focus on just giving thanks.  The rest will fall into place.  Resting in the hands of the Lord is like being a child again and being taken care of.  I like not having to think too much.  Waiting gives me time to pray and think and hear the words in my heart that my Lord has for me.  Thanks be to God. 

I am so grateful today.  I am still praying for my son to recognize that he has a problem.  I am still praying for him to return himself to God.  I am still praying for him to go into treatment.  And, as always I will pray for Henry.  In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ebb and Flow.........

Growing up, my visits to the beach were limited to the atlantic and gulf coasts.  There is truly nothing as restorative as a beach vacation.  It is a vacation that stops the hurry and hustle and for me, helps me to feel God.  How can you look at the magnificence of the the ocean and it's tides and not see God?  It was not until my forties that I visited the Pacific beaches of southern California.  It is so very beautiful.  The waves are massive compared to the waves I'd seen before.  The power of it all is breathtaking.

 It was on this beach that I first attempted to surf.  I have always thought of myself as a fairly coordinated gal.  I did gymnastics and cheerleading in high school.  I can water ski and dance.  I can stay on a horse....most of the time.  So, I thought this would be no problem.  There seems to be three separate parts of surfing to master.  First of all you lay on your board and paddle out away from the shore either guiding your board over the waves or diving under them.  This requires a lot of strength.  The second part is the ability to go from laying on the board and jumping to your feet in a crouched position.  The third part is the ability to drive your board in the direction of the wave you wish to ride...or catch the wave.  I'm sorry, I don't really know the surfer lingo.  Anyway, these are three separate skills to master and timing and balance must accompany each of the three.  So, coordinating all of this at one time is quite a feat. 

Jesus taught many lessons in the form of a parable.  A parable usually describes a setting, describes an action and then shows results.  It is much like an analogy.  I often wondered as a child why He taught in this fashion.  I really felt like I needed some straightforward directions with a few pictures....please.  Now, I am beginning to think that He taught in such a way so that we could  pick up the lessons from God through the miracle of His creation.  I think that there are lessons everywhere if your eyes are open. 

I've finally let go.  I find myself paddling out to the unknown.  I've ridden over a few smaller waves.  I am diving under the larger waves.  I don't know if I'll be able to pop up on this board or not.  It takes timing and courage and no second guessing.  I am at the mercy of the power and strength of the sea.  It is a foreign concept to imagine myself putting blinders on and boldly popping up and letting the wave take me where it wants.  There can be no stiffening up or you will surely fall.  You must use the strength of your body to work with and not against the force of the wave.  This is how I see God's will.  I don't know where it will go.  I don't know where it will take me.  I just know that I need to pray and be still and listen.  I know that I need to trust the ride and move myself with the direction that God is sending me.  I know that I can't hesitate or my lack of faith will throw off the timing of that wave. 

The ocean is in a constant state of ebb and flow.  The rise and the fall of sea levels are caused by the combined effects of gravity exerted by the moon and the sun and the rotation of the earth.  God is His grace knows our human weakness and gives us many many waves to catch.  He gives us time to gather our strength.  He allows us to fail so that we hopefully learn what not to do next time.  The biggest and hardest lesson for me is the total trust.  The total let your body move with the current that is God.  I don't know why that seems so frightening.  I don't know why we ever imagine that we can do better than the One who moves the ocean. 

The next time I go to California, I'm taking an official surfing lesson.  I'm a simple gal who needs a concrete example to help illustrate the feeling of letting go so that I can learn to ride the waves that are God's will.  I want to keep learning.  It is so exciting to feel like you see a glimpse of the hand of God.    I want to look at the world daily and find the parables that God has placed in our daily paths if only we can be still and quiet long enough to see them. 

My son is now having wonderful opportunities to face the natural consequences of his actions.  There is no safety net of Mom or Dad.  He is learning what he should have been learning long ago.  The only difference between then and now is that we aren't contributing or getting in the way.  God is now allowed to show my son these lessons or parables.  Thanks be to God.  This paradigm shift gives me freedom and hope.  Today, I pray for my son to learn from life's daily lessons.  I pray for the wisdom for him to accept his addiction and truly deal with it.  I pray for those who are sick and suffering and as always, I pray for Henry.  In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Wait

We've let go.  Now we wait.  Waiting requires taking no action.  It involves quiet anticipation of the unknown.  It involves continuing to live our lives as normally as we can minus one family member.  It is a little sad as we approach the holidays.  It is a little relief to not continue to fight a losing battle.  It is what it is.....whatever that is. 

Prayer is my source of strength.  It is all I have and probably all I had all along.  Yesterday on Oprah, she did a story on a healer in Brazil, who others refer to as John of God.  He sees thousands of people each day, three days a week.  He takes no money as he says that he isn't doing anything, only God.  She had a scientific journalist and a medical doctor from Harvard on the show.  Both guests had been to visit this man while he was healing others.  Both guests came away with different views.  They both felt that there is so much in life that we can't see.  So much that we can't measure or explain.  I have no doubts.

Prayer is just such a thing.  It can't be understood, measured or seen.  But it's power is huge.  It's healing is unexplainable.  So, while I wait, I pray.  I pray with faith.  I pray for what God wants in this situation.  I know what he wants will be so much better than what I can imagine.  I have stopped looking at the usual routes.  I have stopped expecting the usual prognosis.  I am expecting far greater.  My faith is intact.  I just pray for patience.

On this day, I am thankful for the quiet peace that only God gives.  I am thankful for all of the support that surrounds me and my family.  I pray for God to return my son to Him first and me second.  I pray for those who are sick and suffering.  And, as always, I pray for Henry.  In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Peace That Passes All Understanding

M. Scott Peck describes Satan in his novel, In Heaven as on Earth, as a beautiful voluptuous woman with long flowing hair.  She wore form fitting clothes and was everything he could ever imagine having in a woman.  To him, Satan, being ever so subtle, is capable of knowing our weaknesses and manipulating them.

For some, Satan might come in the form tremendous power.  For others, it might be great wealth.  It seems as if for those who are not struggling with addiction, to be similar to a drug of choice for those who are.  I think that Satan takes our human weaknesses or desires and morphs them into an area of temptation.  I think my area of temptation has been my son.  It has been my sick notion that I somehow had influence over him while he is under the influence of his addiction. 

I think I had an epiphany the day that we cut his phone and told him not to call unless he wanted treatment.  It suddenly occurred to me that if my son was not willing to come home where his financial needs would be met, that his motives for being away were not ones of independence, but ones of isolation.  I was also finally able to admit to myself that any interaction that he had with us, was motivated by something he wanted from us.  He never really called to see how we were doing.  He never cared that we worried.  He did not think outside of himself.  My son is gone.  He is lost inside the madness of addiction. 

When he called to ask why his phone didn't work, his voice sounded foreign to me.  He reminded me of the snake in The Jungle Book movie who is able to contort himself into something you think you want if you are not fully paying attention.  Addiction feels and looks like my best imagination of Satan himself.  So, as I talked with "my son", it felt good to keep repeating, "Don't call unless you want to go to treatment."  When he asked if he could call on Thanksgiving, it was easy to say, "Not unless you want to go to treatment."  My strength multiplied every time I said it as I imagined myself saying....Get behind me Satan!!

I have finally, honestly realized that I cannot fix or control this.  Only God can.  I have finally, totally given this to God.  It gives me an indescribable joy in my heart, in the midst of this terrible circumstance.  My mind questions my sanity.  It is as if God has given me a secret gift that he has yet to reveal to me.  It is a feeling of advent.  I don't know why, but I feel like only good will come and I am waiting, peacefully.  God knows what I need far better than any want I could ever imagine.  Perhaps because I really let go, this is the gift of faith.  This is the faith that God is handling this.  Relief forces have taken over which are properly armed and equipped with omnipotent intelligence.  This is the only power capable of stopping this madness. 

Cutting the last ties was so frightening before, but now, I know that any contribution in any way would be my helping to continue his habit, my helping if he were to overdose and die, my helping if he were to go to jail, my helping to sustain a life absent from God.  I will not be a party to that.  As, my friend said, it's as if I'm telling Satan himself to GET OFF MY PROPERTY!

This is truly a peace that passes all understanding.  Thanks be to God.  When I went to mass this weekend, the celebrant was a Father of Mercy priest.  How appropriate.  He talked about the fact that he rivaled St. Augustin in his shenanigans.  He did not attend mass for 10 years.  Now he is a priest.  God in His goodness keeps giving me hope. 

Today I am so thankful for the amazing gift of faith and hope.  I am thankful for the closeness of God on my journey.  I am thankful for prayers from too many people to count.  I pray for my son to come to the place where he sees addiction for what it really is.  And, as always I pray for Henry.  In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Split the Baby

Today is a day that I have feared for a very long time.  It is a day that used to make me beg and plead with God to help me to avoid.  But, in His goodness, He has prepared me for this day and I mainly feel relief.  This is shocking to me on many levels.  But, when you finally trust, you are given clarity.

It became apparent to my husband and I that addiction is who we've been dealing with, not my son.  When someone has a problem with addiction, drugs are their god, their father, their mother, their brothers and sisters....their everything.  All interactions between the addict and anyone else are motivated by a need to get anything they can to continue their habit. 

Unsure of where to draw the line while letting go, my husband called a counselor who advised us to cut all ties including his phone, which I was very nervous about taking away, because this was for me, so that I could check on him.  He also advised us to tell him not to call us unless he was ready to go to treatment.   So, today with hands shaking, I dialed the cell phone company and asked them to disconnect the phone.  The lady explained that there would be all sorts of penalties for ending the contract early.  I told her that I knew but that my husband and I needed to stop enabling our son.  She was very kind after that and helped to shut the phone off immediately instead of it taking until the end of the billing cycle. 

Then I had to wait.  I was so nervous about his phone call.  I knew that he would call and be mad.  I knew that it would be hard to tell my son not to call me.  I didn't know how I could do it.  Then, I started to get these thoughts.  I know they were directly from God because they came from nowhere.  I started thinking about how I've struggled to truly hand my son over to God.  I have handed him over but not totally let go.  I've fed him, helped with laundry and called him.  He doesn't call me....unless he wants something.  I started thinking about Soloman and the two harlots with the two babies.  One of the babies died in the night and the women fought over whose baby had lived.  Soloman suggested that they cut the baby in half and the real mother said no let him live, give him to her.  Soloman knew that she was the real mother.  I've been asking God to split my baby......until today.  Today God gave me the courage and wisdom to know that I had to give up something that I really don't have in the first place.

I talked with my son.  I told him not to call unless he wanted treatment.  He tried to manipulate but I didn't bite.   I was strong because I wasn't talking to my son.  I was talking to addiction.  I hate addiction.  I will not back down from addiction.  I'm mad now.  I'm fighting for my son. 

I am thankful on this day for God's amazing grace.  I am thankful for clarity, understanding and courage.  I am thankful for all of the wonderful folks who are praying for us daily.  I pray for my son to fight addiction as hard as I intend to.  And, as always, I pray for Henry.  In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Instructions for Letting Go

My vocabulary is increasing these days.  It now includes a lot of words that I thought I understood the meanings to.  There are words like enable, detachment, codependent, manipulation, martyr, and a host of others.  I think that we really only scratch the surface of our understanding of most terms.  We might have an idea of what something means in  a particular situation but maybe we don't fully understand all of the parts and pieces of it's meaning.  Then there's the next level of understanding a word, there's how we use it. 

When you really need to understand how to deal with a very difficult situation, you must be careful that you are handling it in the most appropriate fashion.  I am no longer enabling my son's addiction.  This means that no financial support is offered.  This means no excuses are made for the addict.  This means we don't make sure they get up on time, pay bills, go to meetings or anything else. 

Detachment is when you step away from addiction in order to take care of yourself.  This is a hard one for moms.  It's hard to step away from the mom role.  My son is an adult now.  As a counselor told us, "he's been raised."  Stepping away not only allows you to take care of yourself, it also allows the addict to be responsible for himself.  In the past, we've manipulated many situations to help him succeed.  This isn't true success. 

I could go on and on with this new vocabulary list I'm having to learn to impliment, but, my big question as of late was, where is the line between walking away and loving unconditionally.  I found this in some of my things from rehab.  I am not sure who to give credit to, but it is good and helped guide me. 

TO LET GO........

To let go is not to stop caring,
It's recognizing I can't do this for someone else. 
To let go is not to cut myself off,
It's realizing I can't control another. 

To let go is not to enable
But to allow learning from natural consequences.
To let go is not to fight powerlessness,
But to accept that the outcome is out of my hands.

To let go is not to try to change or blame others,
It's to make the most of myself.
To let go is not to care for, it's to care about.
To let go is not to fix, it's to be supportive.

To let go is not to judge,
It's to allow another to be a human being.
To let go is not to try and arrange an outcome,
But to allow others to affect their own destinies.

To let go is not to be protective,
It's to permit another to face their own reality.
To let go is not to regulate anyone,
But to strive to become what I dream I can be.

Today I pray for the ability to let go with love.  I pray for my son to desire radical life change.  I pray for all of my friends and their struggles and as always for Henry.  In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Amazing Power of Prayer

I find myself truly in awe of how much our Lord provides us when we ask.  I was having one of those days where you can feel the fear creeping up from your toes to your stomach, forming knots in it and all the way to your chest which is feeling squeezed so tightly that you can barely breathe.  I was thinking of all of the things that my son does or doesn't do that remind me how much addiction has taken from us.  I was wondering if he would ever really be a part of this family again.  I wondered if he would ever really grow up and be a responsible adult.  Would he ever have hopes and dreams and goals?  I was looking at how big the gap seemed to be between my son and others his age.  I felt defeated.  I was wondering if there was anything I could do to help him in any way to  head in the right direction. 

I began to pray and read my Al Anon steps, especially step one, and I realize that there is nothing that I could do.  Now, It's hard to know that  there is nothing to do but sit back and watch someone flounder.  Then I went to my meeting.  This is where God speaks to me almost directly, it feels.  Our leader began talking about how much harder it was dealing with addiction with a child than it was a spouse and that what she had come to realize was that when she left things alone, she wasn't messing up God's plan.  She went on to say that the addict is where he is supposed to be, not where I expect him to be.  This is the route that God has plotted for him to take.  This is where I must be faithful and remember that he is in God's hands.  This where I must have the courage to stand back and stop interfering.  This is where I must continue to pray. 

Today I am most grateful for conversations with God.  I am thankful for his calming reassurances.  I pray for continued vision and strength.  I pray for my son to have a strong desire to fight his addiction.  I pray for all those who battle illnesses.  I pray for my family to find comfort during this difficult time.  And as always, I pray for the soul of Henry.  In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Beauty of Gray Hair

My best friend of sixteen years has had gray hair, or at least a shock of gray hair, for most of the time that I have known her.  Her shock was really very pretty.  I used to give her a very hard time for worrying about the fact that she had gray hair.  Then one day, I saw enough gray hairs on my own head to literally shock me.  I couldn't believe it.  How dare they land on my head.  When I mentioned this to my friend, she just laughed.  I told her that it was okay for her to have gray hair but it was another story all together if I had gray hair.  For some reason, I could only see myself as a young person never changing.  I couldn't see myself aging. 

Our society seems to think that youth and perfection, whatever that is, are to be strived for.  We dye our hair, have plastic surgery, try to dress way too young and pretend that all is perfect in our world.  I wonder what we think we are changing by hiding our real authentic lives and selves. 

Growing up, I had this vision of what my life would look like.  It was probably some homogenized cookie cutter version of what I thought perfection was.  It has taken some time and some life experience to rethink things.  I remember seeing Bette Davis being interviewed on the Today show when she was quite old.  She had obviously had plastic surgery and had dyed her hair, she had thick blue eye shadow on and it was really quite a sad spectacle to see.  I thought about the fact that she was probably someones grandmother.  My grandmother had gray curly hair.  She had all of the appropriate wrinkles.  She didn't wear makeup often and when she did it was very light.  She was soft and comforting and safe. 

Our lives, the ups and downs of them, and the process of aging leave their marks.  I don't really think about them being scars as much as smoothing away our rough edges.  Like a saddle that is broken in, life's experiences make us more supple.  They make us more understanding of the importance of life.

Facing the beast of addiction has certainly stripped away a lot of unnecessary worries.  Things that used to bother my husband and I in the past, are hardly worth mentioning.  Things of beauty that we used to miss in the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, are now noticed and savored.  One of the gifts of this struggle is vision with clarity. 

If you've ever seen the photos of Mother Teresa you will see many many wrinkles.  You will see a body which is hunched over from years of living a life not filled with luxury.  What you will see is a radiating smile or a peaceful prayerful face.  I think we miss the beauty in our everyday lives.  Beauty is not about perfection but more about trying to do the right thing in spite of the difficulties.  Beauty is in the day in and day out prayers.  Beauty is in the everyday hum drum.  Beauty is when your faith grows just a little bit.  Beauty is in even the tiniest miracle.  It is all around us.  The more we reach out to each other in our struggles, the more we learn to love.  The more we love, the closer we are to God.  The closer we are to God, the more peaceful we become. 

I'm by no means happy that my son is an addict.  But, I guess I had to hit bottom too, to understand so many things.  So, today, I am thankful for all of the lessons I am learning.  I am thankful for my gray hairs and wrinkly neck, because it means that I have lived.  I am thankful that I am learning to look at souls instead of bodies.  I am thankful for more things than I can list here.  I pray for my son to fight his addiction every single day.  I pray for all of you who life is smoothing away your rough edges, and I pray for Henry.  In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Quiet the Monster

My biggest struggle involves my imagination.  It can go all sorts of places that I never want it to go.  It is a fruitless waste of energy and time.  Yet, it is a struggle to turn it off.  Once it starts to spin, it goes faster and faster until I have to physically stop myself by sitting down, thinking about exactly why I've become so fearful, trying to slow my breathing and praying. 

There are days where I do okay and then there are days that for no apparent reason I tend to go to the dark side.  I understand that this is a result of my not turning this over to God and the fact that I haven't accepted that I can't control this.  I have to constantly remind myself to "Let go and let God".  At my last Al anon meeting one of the ladies had a great acronym.  FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real. 

I really liked that .  It is very hard to focus on doing what I need to do.  I have been trying to change and control my son for such a long time that even though he is off trying to take care of himself, I am here spinning and imagining possible scenarios as if it will somehow influence things.  I am as sick as the addict.  I am in as much need of change as he is.  I am really a slow learner. 

One of the things I'd been wondering about was what to pray for.  I know I pray for God's will and I know that God gives free, exactly what do I pray for?  Then, I read a blog of my best friend's son and this was the topic for November 1, 2010.   This month, Pope Benedict's prayer intentions are for the victims of drugs or other dependence that they may, thanks to the support of the christian community find in the power of our saving God, strength for a radical life change. On All Saints Day...a day that 12 years ago, my mom left this world, this was the post.  This was an answered prayer, because I think I worried that because God gave free will and an addict is at the mercy of the drug, that it would be hopeless.  Writing that sounds awful, it's just one of those twisted thoughts that fear creates. 

I have hope.  I think that prayer is so huge.  This blog is my continuous prayer.  I find peace with each and every post.  It is the peace that passes all understanding that only comes from God.  Today, I feel hope that my son will beat this.  I really do.  I know it will be a long process but with God and prayer ALL things are possible. 

Today, I have a prayer of Thanksgiving for answered prayers.  I am thankful for hope and prayers.  I pray for my son to have the strength to radically change his life.  I pray that I give him the right support so that he can do that.  I pray for all of you who struggle and as always, for Henry.  In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

We are Family

My mother had six children.  She grew up during the depression.  She survived a tornado and a flood, each destroying the home that she was living in.  She lived during World War II. One of her children almost died as a baby, one lost an eye in an accident, two boys were sent off to Vietnam one was wounded, one daughter was diagnosed with a cyst in her brain and all of us drove her crazy from time to time.  Her favorite brother was killed in a tragic fire.  She worked very hard all through her life.  She battled diabetes for over half of it.  She was one strong woman.

I remember growing up thinking that I didn't think that I could withstand all of those very difficult times.  She was such a meek, quiet, kind hearted, loving woman.  She never really got too rattled.  She never really threw a fit.  I am sure you are wondering how I could possibly be her daughter.  Growing up I heard over and over the story of how she received the news that my brother had been wounded in Vietnam.  Apparently, she thought that an official only came in person to deliver news if there had been a death, so when a sheriff and a military figure drove down our driveway she ran outside took off her shoes and started throwing them at the officers yelling at them to get off of her property!!!  If you knew just how quiet my mother was, you would really appreciate that story.  She calmed down and profusely apologized when she realized that my brother was wounded, on his way to the states, and would be okay.

I have a cousin that is my age.  She and I spent a lot of time together growing up.  We used to take our scarves off and she would hold one end and I would hold the other across my driveway at Thanksgiving and we would charge admission to all of the relatives so that we could buy penny candy at the Kwik Pik across from our grandmother's house.  We got into all sorts of trouble fun.  She broke her leg on my skateboard that her father told her not to ride...which I encouraged her to ride.  We made up poetry for the "mean girls" that were calling her names.  We went to see Grease four times until her Dad put his foot down.  She was my maid of honor.  I was in her wedding.  Our boys were born three months apart.

Today, we share a lot more than that.  She has two children that fight a lifelong disease.  She and I worry about the scariest thing possible....the health of our children.  We have faced the one thing that no mom ever wants to face.  We have looked the devil in the eye.  We both know what it is like to be frightened to the core.  We both know what it is like to carry the burden of worry day in and day out.  We both want to hope and still struggle to do so from time to time.  We both get caught up in worry so much so that we loose track of the big picture.

That being said, we are BOTH fighters.  We are learning new ways of hanging on.  We are learning new ways to cope.  God is so generous when we really need Him.  When I started blogging, she was one of my most avid readers and still is.  She has understood all of the fears I have.  She has commented on how different and how much the same our situations are.  She has listened and checked on me and been there.  God in His goodness has brought us out of our busy lives back to help support each other.

The really marvelous thing is that not only do we share our fears, but we really can laugh and have a good time.  We both have said that we have seen the scariest thing.  Nothing else compares to the fear of your child being sick.  We're really not so scared of other things that typically would have scared us before.  We've both mentioned (however foolish) that if someone tried to car jack us or break into our houses we'd say "bring it on, buddy,  just try it....see where it takes you."  We're two mad moms who are just looking for a good reason to start swinging!!!  But, we honestly mean it!!

So here we are.  We're becoming our mothers.  But, for us that's a very good thing.  Our mothers were sisters.  They were so close.  They were sweet and funny and I loved watching them together.  I miss them both so much.  We are facing the hardships that they did that we never thought we could face.  Life can be so hard.  She asked today why God thought we were strong enough to take this.  I have to wonder myself.

I don't want to be in this situation.  I know she doesn't either.  But, at the same time, it is here in this scary place, that all of the "crap" is irrelevant.  It is here that what's important becomes crystal clear.  It is here that I really am trying day in and day out to listen for and follow God's will.  That is a gift.

Today I have many prayers of thanksgiving for the gift of family.  I am thankful for the examples of our mom's who fought hard and loved unconditionally and taught us to laugh.  I am thankful that this hardship has given us proper vision to see what is really important and learn to eliminate " the crap"...I am thankful for a loving God who provides support when we need it most.  I pray for my son to be healed, for good health for my cousins children, for those all around us who are living with the disease of addiction.  I pray for all of the souls including Henry who never got the help that they needed.  I ask all of these things in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Be Not Afraid

I read today that the words, "be not afraid"  appear in scriptures 366 times.  That is one for each day of the year including leap years.  Apparently, I am not the only one who needs reminding.  But, I do need reminding.....often.  I don't know why but I seem to be unable to let go without fear.  I can let go, I just feel so afraid.  I worry and fret about all of the things that could happen.  I imagine all sorts of bad things.  I am afraid to get my hopes up.  Today, I tried very hard to move beyond these feelings of fear.  So, I reached for some of my favorite books to look for answers.  The first book I looked at began with this scripture:  Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4: 6-7.

I guess that about says it all ....stay in prayer and keep your heart and mind on Christ.  I just keep looking down.  I wonder why it is so hard to keep looking up?  There is a saying that courage is fear that has said it's prayers.  I love that .  Prayer reminds us of God's presence and reminds us to rely on His strength and not our own.  St. John Vianney said that God commands you to pray, but forbids you to worry.  I am lacking in faith.  I keep listening to worries and statistics instead of possibilities and hopes. 

My son is looking for a job.  He is starting from the bottom.  But, he hasn't given up....thanks be to God.  He has a long way to go but today, he is doing okay.  I must shift the way I look at things.  I've really got to start being thankful for what I have.  I've got to really start looking at possibilities...through God.  I've got to earnestly start to pray with blinders on.  I've got to make a priority of living my life with all of this going on.  St. Jerome said that facing our fears and doing our duty in spite of them is an important way of taking up our cross; thus, we can reassure ourselves that in our efforts to be brave, we are actually serving Christ.

I have the power to make this whatever this is either produce something good and positive or negative and fearful.  I have the power to choose.  So, this is my new goal.  It's not all about me.  This affects my whole family.  I must let the light of Christ shine through even this hardship.  So, today that is my goal and my prayer.  I pray for paradigm shift.  I pray for strength.  I pray for Christ to help me to quiet the fears and nagging negative thoughts.  I pray for my son and always for Henry.  In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

PS  Mother Teresa was once asked for her business card.  She thought and thought and this is what she came up with.  Perhaps this will help me and you in our journeys...

The fruit of silence is prayer
The fruit of prayer is Faith
The fruit of faith is Love
The fruit of love is Service
The fruit of service is Peace 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Stay the Course

I can see why one of the most popular sayings in AA and Al-Anon is One Day at a Time.  This is a one step forward two steps back kind of world we live in.  As I pray for direction, I can't help but get the feeling that I need to hold the boundary....stay the course. 

It is so difficult when you want so desperately to trust and yet you know you can't.  I keep looking for signs of the person I knew before addiction.  I miss that person.  I get my hopes up to see him again.  When I think I see a glimmer of him again, it would be easy to just relax a little.  But, I can't.  I have to stay vigilant and remind myself to hold fast to the boundary.

All of this vigilance causes emotional fatigue.  I want to just relax on the couch without worry creeping in to wake me.  I want to plan a Sunday dinner and have all my kids there eating and chatting and fighting over dessert.  I want so much that I may not have for a while.  I'm not giving up on my dreams, I'm just trying to remain patient until they come true.  I believe they will.  I just live in a fast food world where I want it now. 

Mother Teresa is my most favorite (soon to be) saint.  I just love her so much.  She was this no nonsense, plain spoken, straight forward, pushy,holy nun.  I've learned many things about truly living a life according to God's will through her writings.  Prayer was at the center of all that she did.  It must be at my center too.  She felt that God was requesting that she start this new order to go to the poorest of the poor.  She had to get permission from her superiors and when they didn't give her the answer right away, she continued to write and pray and did not give up.  What are the odds that an everyday sister would start a new order in a very poor country with no funding and eventually open a home for the dying, an orphanage and be known world wide?  She just kept her eye on who could do it.  She persisted.  She kept her faith. 

Today, I am looking to Mother Teresa and will try to follow her lead.  Prayer, perseverance and faith will help me to get my second wind.  I pray that my son will learn new healthy habits too.  I pray that he learns to be honest.  I pray that he become the man that God wants him to be.  I pray for the ability to stay the course and as always I pray for Henry.