Sunday, April 25, 2010

Uncle Ray's Potato Chips

It had been a long day of recording. I had been laying down tracks for my "Flying Sheep" CD, had spent a good part of the day recording sheep sounds at the local fairgrounds (that's a whole 'nother blog right there)..... and so I really hadn't eaten much that day. I was driving home late at night and stopped into the local "Get It And Get Out" store... (That's what I like to call those places). It was just a truck stop/mini mart type of thing.... Anyway, being the health-food nut that I am, I headed straight for the candy/potato chips/beef jerky/Ho-Ho's aisle...
I was rifling through a display of potato chips and saw that they had some called, "Ray's Potato Chips". Hmmmm... never tried those before, ... so I grabbed a bag and headed for the checkout. And then,... while I was walking towards the counter, I just happened to turn the bag around and read the back of it. I was shocked at what I saw. I was dumfounded. I was dismayed... I was taken aback, I was blown-away...... (O.K.., I think you get the picture)..... It's a lot easier if I just let you "read" the back of the potato chip bag for here goes....

"On a very cold January day in Detroit, Bob Jenkins and a fellow Detroit Edison electrician were driving to a job site. Bob saw two young men by the roadside and asked his buddy to stop the truck. They were both shivering. Neither young man had a coat, sweater, or gloves. They looked very cold. Bob took off his coat and put it on one of them and handed his knit cap and gloves to the other. When he got back in the truck, his buddy said, "What are you going to do? We have to work outside at the Sub Station." Bob said, "I'll be o.k."
Bob has always been my hero. I have seen his kindness and consideration for others all my life.
My brother is now with our Lord Jesus Christ. He is experiencing what our Lord has promised us all,... life everlasting in Paradise for all who believe in Him."

It was hard for me to fathom that someone would actually write a eulogy for his brother and then have it printed and distributed nation-wide on a bag of potato chips! Ray must have really loved his brother...

As another "Bob Jenkins" it was a sober reminder that one day, I too, shall shed this mortal coil (don't ask me about "mortal coil" stuff.... I read it somewhere and it sounded kind of cool). Anyway....I just pray that IF someone takes the time to write a eulogy for me that they have noticed the changes in my life over the years, my feeble attempts to live-out the God-given life that I am blessed with... to hopefully to have seen Jesus working in me. As someone once said, "If I'm ever arrested for being a Christian, I hope there's enough evidence to get me convicted".

Thanks Ray, for reminding me of my tenuous grip on this life, and the miracle that awaits in the life to come.... eternal life through Jesus Christ.

I had to smile at Ray's parting words:

"You have a choice when choosing potato chips and snacks. From my family to yours, thank you for choosing Uncle Ray's."

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Co-Dependent Part 2

We had a middle-age woman in our family counseling session talking about how she would get in her car at night and cruise the part of town where there was a lot of drugs and crime, hoping to find her son, hoping to rescue him. She could imagine herself storming the "drug-house" in the middle of the night, scooping up her son, bringing him home, nursing him back to health, ... if she could only "rescue" him..... all would be right with the world.
Parents, especially women, are more often than not, lead by the heart... and are often led into this type of insane behavior. Fathers, I believe, are just as affected by a son or daughter lost into the world of drugs, but they tend to keep their emotions more bottled-up inside. Someone has to be the "strong one" and try to keep things in control.
Life with an addict, whether it's a son, daughter, husband, wife, (father or mother),...even a close friend, can become a roller-coaster of ride of emotions. We don't respond well when we can't "control" the situation. We tend to so immerse ourselves into the lives of those we want to control that we fail to look after ourselves in the process.
It's been scientifically proven that someone who is in a co-dependent relationship with an addict often becomes as sick, or sometimes, more sick, than the addict themselves. The addict is happy to stay on the "Chemical Vacation" and is oblivious to the hurt and anxiety that they are causing to those they love. The non-addict family member (at least not chemically an addict), is caught up in all the emotions of hurt, anger, betrayal, frustration, worry,...etc., but, they don't have the same escape from reality that the addict has. This can manifest itself in physical symptoms such as migraine headaches, ulcers, muscle spasms, spastic colon, more colds and flu, sinus conditons, ...etc., ...just a general decline in physical health from all the worry and sleepless nights and anxiety about the future. Waiting for that 3 A.M. phone call from the police... or the hospital... night after night after night.....can take it's toll.
When an addict finally reaches their "bottom" and gets into the process of recovery, they normally get connected to a healthy support system (such as Alcoholics Anonymous), where they can learn about their disease, the recovery process, and find tools to help them navigate the path ahead. For the co-dependent family member this is just as important... to find a healthy support system... to help them understand the dynamics of addiction and the role they should play in supporting (and often NOT supporting), the addict in their life. Whether the addict ever seeks help of not, it is vitally important for the family to be involved in a family support group or some type. Family members need to be counseled in effective ways to deal with the ongoing problems associated with having an addict/alcoholic loved-one. Al-Anon and Alateen are two very important programs for family members.

The bottom line is this: We, whoever we may be, or even how much we care and try to do, do not have the power to control the life of another person. This is a hard truth to accept. Often, in our efforts to "control" the addict/alcoholic, we are actually making it harder for that person to seek the help they so desperately need. We don't help the addict by constantly bailing him or her out of bad situations which are caused by their addiction. Just like the addict eventually has to do, family members need to learn to "Let go and let God" be in control.
There is a lot of good information on the internet that speaks about Co-Dependency. If you find yourself relating to this situation I hope you will do some research on the subject, reach out and get help for yourself and the other family members who are suffering ...along with the addict. Addiction... IS...a family disease.....

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Co-Dependent.... Part 1

This week's blog gives a big tip'O' The Hat to Sharon Hersh. If you or someone you love is dealing with addiction problems then I highly recommend that you go and get a copy of: "The Last Addiction" by Sharon A. Hersh.

You might be in a Co-Dependent relationship with someone if this describes your life with them....

We....... nag; lecture; scream; holler; cry; beg; bribe; coerce; hover over; protect; accuse; chase after; run away from; try to talk into; try to talk out of; attempt to induce guilt in; seduce; entrap; check on; demonstrate how much we've been hurt; hurt people in return so they'll know how it feels; threaten to hurt ourselves; whip power plays on; deliver ultimatums to; do things for; refuse to do things for; stomp out on; get even with; whine; vent fury on; act helpless; suffer in loud silence; try to please; lie; do sneaky little thing; do sneaky big things; clutch at our hearts and threaten to die; grab our heads and threaten to go crazy; beat on our chests and threaten to kill; enlist the aid of supporters; gauge our words carefully; sleep with; refuse to sleep with; have children with; bargain with; drag to counseling; drag out of counseling; talk mean about; talk mean to; insult; condemn; pray for miracles; pay for miracles; go to places we don't want to go; stay nearby to supervise; dictate; command; complain; write letters about; write letters to; stay home and wait for; go out and look for; call all over looking for; drive down dark alleys at night hoping to see; chase down dark alleys hoping to catch; run down alleys at night to get away from..... placate; provoke; try to make jealous; try to make afraid; remind; inquire; hint; look through pockets; peek into wallets; search dresser drawers; dig through glove boxes; look into toilet tanks; try to look into the future; search through the past; call relatives about; reason with; settle issues once and for all; settle them again; punish; reward; almost give up; try even harder; and a list of other handy maneuvers I've either forgotten or haven't tried yet.....

Many of these behaviors are common relationship issues, but, loving an addict takes everything to a whole new level and can be more than a full-time job. Then we wonder why life with an addict is so..... hard.

To be continued next week.....

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Women Of Easter

Every year, during the Easter Season, Christians around the world celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some believe in a literal, physical resurrection and see Christ's Resurrection as a precursor of things to come... a literal, physical resurrection for ALL people. Then, on the flip side, there are a lot of folks who believe that the resurrection story is simply a metaphor... just as springtime signals a resurrection from the death-like grip of the winter season. Perhaps it is. Perhaps it is both. It's up to each individual to decide for themself what they choose to accept as fact and what they choose to accept as fiction.
I've read through the account of the resurrection in the Gospels dozens of times over the years and each time it seems there are things to consider that I had never seen or contemplated before. One of those things is the involvement of the women in the story of the resurrection.
In first century Palestine, women were considered "second class citizens". They were more or less included in the same category as the slaves of that era. They couldn't vote on anything and they couldn't testify in a trial because their testimony would never be accepted in any legal matter.
What I find most interesting about the gospel accounts (Matthew chapter 28, Mark chapter 16, Luke chapter 25 and John chapter 20).... all four gospels are written by men and each account gives the testimony that it was "women" who first encountered the resurrected Jesus, and it was the "women" who first actually believed it was true. The "men" needed a lot more convincing. All four gospels are written to be read as historical, factual narratives as to the events surrounding the life, death and resurrection of Christ. Mathew, Mark, Luke and John are trying to convince us that what happened, actually happened.
Now... here's the puzzler: If these guys were trying to "make up" an elaborate, almost unbelievable story, simply to embellish a fairy-tale, it seems ludicrous that they would make the chief witnesses (or at least the "first" witnesses) of the resurrection.... women. I can almost hear the conversation the writers might have with themselves: "Now, if I say it was 'women' who were the first witnesses of the resurrection, then I will have lost all credibility with my readers. Maybe I should just leave them out of the story.... Maybe I should just say it was 'Peter' or 'John' or 'Bubba the gardener' or 'Phil the tombstone-maker' to whom Jesus first appeared. Yeah, that's the ticket!... But ...then again, ...that wouldn't be the 'truth'....Do I want to write the truth.. or do I want to write my version of what I would have liked to have had happen?.... I could make MY version of the truth much more acceptable and actually 'believable.' " What to do... what to do....?
I think it was quite a dilemma for those first-century evangelists....
Personally, I'm glad they wrote it the way they did.... just told it the way it happened... and, as we say now in these modern times, "Let the chips fall where they may"... To a first-century writer, I think it was a tough decision to make.
I'm glad winter is finally over. It's been a rough one. Spring looks mighty good to me this year....
Hope you all have a great week ahead of you....

For those of you living here in K.C. or the surrounding area, I will be playing this coming Friday at Homer's Coffeehouse in Overland Park.. 7:30.. Come on out if you can....