Counting Your Blessings?

White Christmas is one of my favorite movies for so many reasons! Do you recall Bing Crosby singing Count Your Blessings?  Here's a little snippet of it...

When is the last time you counted your blessings with your loved ones or with the ones you love that aren't living exactly as you hoped? 

The other day, Cliff and I were discussing how time seems to be moving so quickly when suddenly he looked at the calendar and said that he was about to celebrate 10 years clean.  Ten years! Now that's something to be thankful for from his perspective and mine! 

After spending 15 years on the pathway to destruction Cliff had his moment with God who heard his heartfelt plea and removed him from the cavernous call of addiction into a life of freedom. The walk of freedom hasn't been without struggles, sometimes really hard struggles, but the call back to heroin has not been in his timeline since that day. In the same way the chaos has begun to become a thing of the past for me. Changes for me have also not come easily as one who was enmeshed in codependency and enabling. I thought I was being a good and loving mom. Ugh. 

As Cliff and I chatted he couldn't help but acknowledge just how much God had intervened and spared his life in moments of danger, provided food in moments of deep hunger and kindness from strangers when he was cold or alone. The conversation was one of gratitude and thanksgiving for Cliff. It soothed my soul as well as I thought of just how much God answered prayers in all kinds of ways for all types of situations. 

Sometimes when we're caught up in the molasses of someones addiction we struggle to find one thing to be thankful for. We can't see past our pain to the promise or hope for the future especially for the ones we love. But God says to give thanks in all circumstances! 

What?!? How in the world am I supposed to do that! Can't you see what I'm dealing with here? 

We speak to ourselves in negative and heavy ways and moment by moment we struggle to even get our eyes up off the ground.  We shake our fists at God in frustration and anger. We are so stinkin' tired of the battle that we lose sight of the hope and promise God is offering to us. 

But He says:  Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. 
(Col 4:2)

You argue in your heart and mind with this thinking. But as simple as it sounds, if we practice counting our blessings one by one, as we ask God to protect the ones we love and call them into healthy living, our own mindset and outlook on life gets changed. Do you have a roof over your head, food on the table and something warm to wear when you are cold? Be thankful! You've worked hard for it, for sure, but are you thankful for your job even if the circumstances are less than ideal? Do you own a car? Do you have  pet who loves you even if you're grumpy, sad or tired? 

Honestly, you can't do anything about another persons life choices. Nothing. What should be our response? Giving it all over to God in prayer and asking Him for help in our own situations that our attitudes and behaviors would be honorable. As a parent, child or spouse of one who is still caught up in a deadly life style, you have to let them go and take care of yourself. Don't waste the years on what you cannot change. Only God has that kind of life-changing ability! 

"If you're worried and you can't sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you'll fall asleep counting your blessings"

(picture googled)

The First Step

Well, how'd you do yesterday? It was a beautiful weather day here and my day was busy like most with blessings throughout. I went to church in the morning and am always so thankful to be in the house of the Lord but also to be among what I call my faith family. These are the people that walk along side me and encourage me to be the very best that God planned all along. They urge me on and lift me up when I stumble. And believe me, I stumble.

How so? 

When I stumble, I start my day without a thought of God, my Higher Power. I wake up and charge into the starting gate ready to rock the world. Or I hide deeper under the covers and I just don't want to start anything. Anything.  Over the years of recovery, which led me to a much deeper walk with my Savior, I've learned to allow myself the time to wake up and thank up first. Thank up? Yes, sending my thanks up to God who is giving me another breath of life and a new day to begin again. Do you know how much God has promised us in His Word? Do you know how often He offers us forgiveness, help and a hand up? 

Look at what He says here. 'Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.' (Isaiah 41:10) 

Who couldn't use this kind of help? I sure need Him to hold me up often! 

I stumble through the day when I don't respond to people correctly. Sometimes we say that's just the way we are but if you strive to be better than the day before, it requires looking at yourself and the way you interact with people. I came from a very large family and often the atmosphere was a survival of the fittest which could mean a lot of different things to different people. In our home it might have been the quickest wit, whether funny and lighthearted or sharp and painful, wins. It wasn't necessarily about which way it was delivered but you had to get it in first. This could create a myriad of heartache if you were a nano-second behind. If you came in second, you lost the moment. Strength in words can either build people up or tear people down. Now, everything ever said in our home was not negative and unkind. At all. Telling others to toughen up might not always be the answer although in our culture we could use a little bit of that thinking for sure. It surely is a fine line, isn't it? Truth in love should be spoken but truth in hurtful pokes and barbs is never correct. 

I also stumble through the day when I let electronics keep me from doing a task that requires my full attention. I've been decluttering for months. Months, I say!  Some days I respond to the task well at hand and other days it appears overwhelming. The reward in decluttering however can come in delightful surprises. I'm finding as I go through clothes that didn't fit me just right a year ago (but I didn't pass on) are now fitting me just right. Bonus! 

All this to say that starting my day with God is simply so much better than when I stumble into the day with a face plant. When I sit down with my Bible and recovery reading, without realizing it, I start out with a deep, relaxing sigh. I've noticed that every time. It puts me in a place of surrendering all that I was carrying to our meeting spot. When I start the day with saying 'Thank you for a new day' it sets my mind on God walking me through today instead of me running ahead and asking God to hurry up!

I hope you have found your place with God and people to support you through whatever obstacles face you today. His Word is a great place to find all that He has promised to those who believe. I can testify that it's true!!  Do you know that God says He has loved us with an everlasting love?? If we don't know that, we can't fill up with His strength and confidence. 

The First Step of Recovery which says: We admitted we were powerless over ____ (fill in your own struggle) and that our lives had become unmanageable. We are recognizing and saying that we have no defense over our situation, substance or people. What a great way to start the day. Acknowledge that you are powerless and ask your Higher Power, (God for me, the maker and creator of all things), to lead you in the way that you should go.  I don't need to stumble into the day at all! 

And don't forget, all the strength you need to get through the day is found in His Word. In case you don't own a Bible, you can go to Bible Gateway ( find His love letter to you there! 

Check it out!  Need some suggestions? Send me a note! 

Pic googled 

Mom, Take Your Eyes Off!

Next to Christmas and New Years day, the hardest holiday for families in crisis is probably Mother's Day.

Magazines, TV programs and ads, newspapers, radio and Facebook tout enduring pitches of what a great mother your mother was and the reward you should be giving her.  But I'd venture to say that most mother's of addicts and alcoholics are struggling to find their place today.   This holiday almost seems to be a competition as to which mother has been honored more by her adoring children.

After all, where would we be without our mothers?  Some people, however, didn't have loving mothers and are searching for someone to affirm them and validate their existence while some mothers are struggling to find their loving children underneath all the chemicals running rampant through their veins.

Perhaps each Mother's day rolls by with your stomach inside out in anguish wondering whether or not you'll get a glimpse of your addicted one. Maybe Mother's day is the same as every other day with all the chaos, fighting and tears that you've been enduring for weeks, months or years now.  "Nothings changed!"  you shout to yourself as you pull on the covers and put the light out on another disappointing, heart-breaking day.  You go to sleep with tears falling on your pillow and cursing the situation you are in, loathing the alarm that will jolt you awake in 7 hours for yet another exhausting day. 

"How will this ever be different?" you ask to no one in particular.  Heavy sighs follow.

One of the current buzz phrases is "change agent" and people are being urged to be the change they want to see.  Being codependent, we sometimes struggle severely to see that things really can be different. We take on the thinking that this life was merely meant to be endured and nothing better would come our way.  Oh, the lies of addiction affect the whole family!

But, if you could change something today, what would it be?  Don't lose a ton of time thinking about what you know you cannot change.  Instead,  if you could change one thing today for yourself what would it be?  Have you set any goals for yourself?  This isn't easy. We aren't used to focusing on ourselves in a healthy way. I am just beginning to set new, attainable goals and I've been working a program for 6 years.  

What would next Mother's day be like for you if you can make a reasonable change for yourself?  I used to imagine my special days with my children and grands around my feet. That really isn't the way it goes in my family and now I'm okay with that. The truth is, my sons and daughter-in-law don't love me any more or any less because we aren't all gathered together but for years the lies in my head told me differently.  Facebook and other venues may make you feel less loved or cared for, but you can stop that in its tracks right now. Stay off of Facebook if it breaks your heart. 

What can you do that lets love in and allows you to feel at peace?  For me, I took today off. Off from everything.  I didn't go to church which is rare. I would love to have been there but I attend a church that is 35 minutes away and was just in that area yesterday and will be there again tomorrow night for a meeting so I decided a week ago, that I was probably going to spend Sunday morning in my chair, with a cup of coffee and my feet up and my Higher Power, my Savior, is okay with that!  I watched "I Love Lucy" reruns and read the paper.  I made home made waffles and took a nap. I received messages from people that love me which includes my own offspring and watched my beloved Detroit Tigers while catching up on some overdue reading. It has been a perfect day!  In the past I may not have heard from one or the other of my sons and for some reason I let the drugs lie to me about how they really felt about me. Suddenly the day would be lost in "should haves and would haves and if only".  Ugh. 

I'm thankful and grateful that this program allows me to let go of my expectations, to still be at peace in my heart and to know when to walk away from Facebook. Just like I learned years ago to turn off the TV during Christmas when the messages were overwhelmingly laden with couples and romance and what I thought I was missing, I'm learning to not let anyone or anything dictate what these days ought to be and where my joy comes from.

So, I ask again, what will mother's day look like tomorrow? What will it look like next year? What changes will you make in your own life choices that will bring you joy and peace for each day leading up to next mother's day?  Remember  that it's just one day at a time so you don't have to change every messy thing today. It's a process, sometimes slow and laborious but a process nonetheless. You will see that you are different than you were 30 days ago, six months ago and each passing year.   

Take your eyes off your addict.  Look out the window and see how many different kinds of birds are in your neighborhood.  It's that time of year to plant a garden or container that will bring joy to your heart.  Take your eyes off your addict.  Read a book that challenges your thinking or takes you on a brain vacation. Take your eyes off your addict. You are a good mom and you are loved.  Don't hang your head any more for the choices your addict has made. Don't bury yourself for your past parenting mistakes made in love. Get some support and friends who will see the talents and gifts you have been given.  It sounds trite but Let Go and Let God. 

Mostly take your eyes off your addict and place them on God who cares for you more than you'll ever know.  Bask in His love for you as He longs to lead you into something new and loving and exciting. 

Happy Mother's Day from one change agent to another!