Friday, December 31, 2010

Relationships and electronics

There is an old story about a country that was conquered by a foreign king. The king called-in the Bishop of the local church and demanded "all the treasures of the Church" to be brought to him. The Bishop told him that it might take him a couple of days but that he would, indeed, round-up all the Church treasures and bring them to the new king.

A couple of days later the Bishop appeared in the King's Court. Right behind the Bishop was a bunch of local people.... some finely dressed, some appearing to be dressed very poorly.
The King said to the Bishop, "What have you brought me? Who are all these people? Where's the treasure I told you to bring?"
The Bishop looked up at the king and with a smile on his face said, "These, Sir....ARE the treasures of the Church! These are all people whom God has chosen to make-up HIS Kingdom!.... They are the only true treasures that the Church has."
I'm sure the Bishop was summarily executed by the new king... but, the point was well taken.

People who need people...
Are the luckiest people in the world....

(O.K., How did Barbra Streisand get into my blog?)..... OUT! .... NOW!

My wife and I were at a popular restaurant yesterday evening.

There was a young couple at the table behind us. Husband, wife and small child. The child couldn't have been older than perhaps 5 or 6 years. The little boy was holding some sort of phone, playing video games. His parents were sitting across from each other, both of them on their respective cellphones, chatting away.

A snapshot of the modern American family.....

It seems electronic devices have taken over the world, ... and, most of all, taken over the conversation.
It's so funny,... how we don't t-a-l-k anymore....
(That's another song,... can't remember who it was by).....

But it's too true. We are such a technological society that we are now so absorbed with electronics that it hardly leaves room for conversation, let alone "relationships".

It's a new year.... a new beginning.... a chance to start over....

I hope that if you have children, or a spouse, or a friend,... that you won't neglect them. Keep the conversation going,... or, start conversations that have been lacking.

There is nothing more important than our relationships with other people....and God, of course.

Which reminds me...
A professional football player recently dropped a pass in a big game. He went home and "tweeted" God. Told God, "I praise You 24/7, and what do YOU do? You let me drop the ball!".... (This from a guy who will make more money playing one year of football than I will make in a lifetime). God really gave him a raw deal!....
Actually, if he's going to be mad at God, the tweet should have been, "Hey God, why did you make me one of the stupidest people on the planet?"...... tweeting God....brilliant...

I don't think God reads our "tweets",... but, I think He is involved in our conversations, and more specifically, our relationships.

This year I hope all of us will concentrate on what is really important..... our relationships. These are our true treasures.... other people.

Don't let technology, .....whether it's television, texting, tweeting, Facebooking, video games or whatever, rob you of the unique opportunity to have real, true relationships....

Monday, December 27, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

It's hard to believe that I started writing this blog over a year ago,... actually, I believe, in November of last year. I had a couple of New Year's Resolutions. One, was to continue to write this 12-Step blog for at least one year. I wanted it to be a blog about life, love and addiction issues. Some of them have been taken from real life, some from the lives of others, favorite authors, movies, friends and family.... a lot of old memories. In a lot of ways it was a cathartic experience, remembering some childhood events and seeing how they helped to shape the person that I am today... some good, some bad, some totally indifferent...
Another resolution I had was to do something positive with my musical talent. Most of you know me as a singer/songwriter. I have produced four CD's worth of recorded music. I found myself with a lot of CD's simply cluttering up my basement shelves. In the book-publishing world they call self-publishing "vanity publishing",.. meaning, that you want to see your work in print and, since no one will actually "publish" you,... you simply publish yourself and have a bunch of books printed.
A couple of years ago I attended a funeral of a person who had "self-published" several books. They had the books stacked-up at the funeral and told folks to take a book or two with them after the funeral. I thought that was a fine idea... but, at the same time, I thought it was sort of sad. This person had accumulated a bunch of books that he had kept in boxes in his basement or closet.
Over the years I have accumulated quite a collection of "self-published" CD's. Last year, one of my resolutions was to try and do something positive with them. I thought about doing a bunch of concerts, raising some money to support a couple of local charitable causes and giving at least a portion of my CD sales away to support these efforts also.
I knocked on a lot of doors.... and, to my amazement, I had a lot of doors slammed in my face!
A lot of my music is Spiritual in nature so I guess I thought that a lot of churches would be open to support what I was doing and would be willing to host a concert. Boy, was I wrong.
I'm still amazed at how closed-off most churches are, doing their own thing, and very much opposed to having anyone outside of their borders come in and do anything different from what they consider "the norm". Perhaps it's simply an indication of how crazy the world has become and how easy it is to want to "circle the wagons". (If you like old Westerns then you know what that means)..... my apology to any Indian readers. Glad we don't do that anymore.)....Not with "wagons" anyway.....
This is not to say that the year was a total wash. I did end up playing a half-dozen such concerts and it was a very rewarding experience. All things being ideal, it should have been twenty or thirty. I still find myself at year's end with a closet full of CD's and a willingness to keep putting one foot in front of the other to try and accomplish my ultimate goal.... to die CD FREE!....(Sort of sounds weird, doesn't it?.... saying it like that)....
That's the thing about New Years Resolutions. We try,... and we do well for a few days.. or weeks,.. and then, .... we mess-up and cave-in..... Whether it's a desire to follow a particular diet and lose weight, give up smoking, drinking, drugging, cat-wrestling,.... whatever. When we fail the first time we find it hard to get up, brush ourselves off, and keep "keepin' on"...
So, despite some past disappointments I have resolved to keep on "keepin' on", committing my desires to God and letting Him have his way with my life... one day at a time. Perhaps I won't be any more successful this year than last year... but, that's o.k. The goal is to keep looking forward and to keep trying to do my best, using the time, talent and abilities that God has given me to try and make it a better world.... better for my friends, family, acquaintances... people I don't know and haven't even met yet. I pray for the grace to keep on going forward, and if I fall down, to get back up again, brush myself off and keep on walking....
Do YOU have some "New Year's Resolution(s)" you are looking forward to keeping?
I wish you success. Most of all, I hope that if you fall-down and break your resolution, I pray that you will get back up and keep moving forward. After all,.... it's just "a day".... it's not your "life"....
And, if I die before the year is out and you happen to attend my funeral,.... grab a few CD's and give them to some friends and family.... and strangers.
I won't mind....really. I think. :-)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas 2010

"Unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord will accomplish this." Isaiah 9:6-7

The prophet Isaiah predicted the birth of the Messiah, the One who would come and bring everlasting peace to the world.
Jesus came and fulfilled ALL of the scriptures pertaining to the Messiah, leading up to his death and resurrection. I believe there were around 70 prophecies that He fulfilled to validate His place in history and in God's plan of redemption.
Where's the peace?.... The world is still very much in conflict,.... wars and rumors or wars,... corrupt governments,....genocide,..... crazy dictators in unstable countries....

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in Me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. " Luke 14"1-4

"They (Jesus' disciples) were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressing in white stood beside them. "Men of Galilee, they said, why do you stand there looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven." Acts 1:10-11

I once heard a sermon where the preacher said that looking at Jesus in prophecy is like looking at a mountain range. In full view is a mountain that depicts the arrival and life of Jesus Christ on the earth,... his birth, ministry, death and resurrection. On the other side of that mountain is another mountain, shielded from view by the first. This second mountain represents all the prophecies concerning Jesus' second coming to earth to rule and reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords,... to fulfill the prophecy like the last part of Isaiah 9.
In between these two mountains is a valley,.... which represents a span of time.
This "valley" is where we find ourselves presently. These are the "days of grace", the time in which the Good News is preached to the ends of the earth. A day is approaching when Jesus Christ shall return again and put an end to all of the wars, sin and corruption we are now experiencing. Nobody knows for sure exactly when that day will come, but, as with all of the other prophecies that have been fulfilled to the letter, so will the prophecies concerning Jesus' return.
As we celebrate Christmas, the advent of His first coming, let us also consider that the story is still in process... the script is still being written, the final chapter is yet to be presented upon the world's stage. Christmas is a good time to reflect, ... to remind ourselves that the excitement and drama of Christ's first appearing will actually pale in comparison to when He returns in His resurrected glory! Great things await to be revealed.
When we see the world in the shape that it is in today, remember the words of Jesus: "Let not your heart be troubled. Believe in God, ... believe in ME also."....
Jesus... the same, "Yesterday, Today... and ... Forever"... Hebrews 13:8

We hear a lot of Christmas carols this time of year. One of my favorite Christmas songs is one that doesn't get a lot of airplay on the radio. It was written by one of my favorite songwriters, Skip Ewing. The song: "It Wasn't His Child"
You can listen to it at:

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cutting.. part 3

Signs that your daughter might be cutting, or harming herself in some way...

General defiance
Not fulfilling her responsibilities
Exploding with anger
Withdrawing completely
Becoming unusually passive

It's easy for parents to jump in "full force" and confront their daughter. This can be seen as a "combative" move on the part of the young person and cause them to further raise their defenses. It is advisable to approach the subject with love and concern. The person doing the self-harm is dealing with enough shame and guilt already. They shouldn't be approached in a way that will simply add more shame and guilt to the problem. Confrontation can be a beautiful expression of love if approached in the correct manner. In the case of addicts/alcoholics, there is sometimes an "intervention", when the entire family and close friends get together with an experience counselor to confront the person with the problem. They are not there to be "accusatory" or "blaming", but to simply show the person that they love them and miss the relationship that the drug is stealing them away from. In the same way, parents should express that their concern is for the well-being of their daughter and that they aren't there to judge or condemn but to love them unconditionally.
If the parents are together (married), they should approach the problem from a unified position, both parents agreeing to how the situation should be approached. There should be "unity" on the part of the parents, neither parent blaming the other for perhaps causing the situation in the first place.
The parent(s) should remain calm and maintain that they love their daughter and only want to help her.
The intervention should only take place in a safe environment, some place where there aren't other people around who aren't part of the solution. In other words, it should be done "privately".
The parent(s) should make it an issue of prayer if they believe in God, or a "Higher Power", asking for wisdom in dealing with the situation.
The parent should be armed with reasons/observations that are leading them to bring the issue up. They should be prepared for their daughter to to deny the behavior, so they should be ready to give some examples as to why they have their suspicions.
The parent(s) should constantly remind their daughter of their unconditional love, letting their daughter know that, no matter what she is doing to herself or going through, they are not there to judge her, but simply to love her and help her in her struggles.

For parents to know:
1. Their daughter's struggle with self-harm does not mean or indicate that you are a bad parent!
I've heard over and over again, parents blaming themselves for their addict son or daughter.
No parent is the perfect parent. We all make mistakes in the area of parenting, but blaming
oneself is never a solution to the problem and, most of the time, is actually a hindrance.
2. Submit your feelings and concerns to God or your Higher Power
3. Be humble!....Approach every situation with your child from a standpoint of humility.
4. Remind yourself that you are NOT her Savior, nor are you capable of having the answer to
all problems at all times.
5. Be proactive in helping your daughter realize that God will be YOUR strength as well as HERS
throughout this entire difficult process of helping and healing.

A prayer for parents:

Lord God, I pray for my daughter. I lift her up to You and pray for You to lead and guide her. I pray for her to know she is loved and accepted by You. I thank You in advance for healing her of her pain and I pray that You would empower her with Your Spirit to overcome her desire to self-harm. I pray that she would see her value and importance on this earth, to You, to her parents, to her friends and relatives. I pray that she would live and not die, declaring the works of the Lord on her behalf.
And Lord, I surrender my daughter to You. Lead and guide me as I help my daughter. I surrender MY life to You. I choose to trust You in all of Your ways and trust that You will do a miracle in my family.....

Mercy Ministries:
Founder and President of Mercy Ministries, Nancy Alcorn began her career in corrections and social work. Realizing the inadequacy of secular programs to offer real transformation in the lives of troubled girls, she started Mercy Ministries in 1983, with residential programs now available in several states and internationally. A frequent speaker at conferences around the world, Nancy resides in Nashville, Tennessee. Visit the Mercy Ministries website at:

If you know of a parent who might be interested in this brief overview on the subject of Self-Harm, please direct them to read this and the last couple of blogs on the issue at:

Thanks and gratitude to everyone who shows concern for the hurting and those suffering from the bondage of addiction(s), in whatever form it takes....

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cutting... Part 2

This is a continuation of last weeks' blog on Cutting, .... described as "Self-Harm"...

I took my notes from a presentation at my church by Laura Rink, who worked this past summer as a counselor for teenage girls. The camp is a Christian Camp and so this subject was approached from a Christan perspective. I know that not all who read this blog may have the same belief system and may approach this and other subjects differently. I am presenting it as it was presented to me. I hope you, the reader, will take this into consideration. As I said previously, this issue of cutting is a serious psychological problem and if you know someone who is self-mutilating in any way, you should talk to a professional counselor and try to get help for them....whether it's a Christian Counselor or a secular one.

Breaking Free:
Talking about your emotions
Writing down your feelings daily (Journaling)
Drawing and Painting
Praise and Worship
Reading the Bible
Christian Counseling

Forgiving Others:
Allowing unforgiveness to take root in your life is a stumbling block to freedom. (Note: This applies to breaking free of ALL addictive, destructive behaviors.)
Realizing that we have been forgiven by God frees us to forgive others. Refusing to forgive locks our pain inside of us.
We also need to realize that forgiveness is not an emotion, but it is a choice. It's a starting place to simply say the words, making the choice to say the words daily, even praying for that person whom we hold resentment for. The feelings will come later. Perhaps slowly, but they will come.
Also, unforgiveness keeps us bound to the control of others and their abuse.

Forgiving yourself:
I think this is a big one. Forgiving yourself. Actually, most of us don't think about this one, so we end up on an endless cycle of self-hatred, without even realizing it. It may be hard to forgive yourself for things you've done in the past. They key is: If you can honestly believe that God has the capacity to forgive you, and to even "choose" to forget what you have done in the past, how can you NOT forgive yourself? It's as if you are saying, "I know better than God what I do or don't deserve."..
This subject of forgiveness, .. for others AND yourself, is stressed in all Addiction Counseling, regardless of the addiction or struggle, and I believe it's something that all of us human beings deal with (or don't deal with) at some level in our lives.

For Parents:
In families where a high value is assigned to public reputation, girls especially, tend to feel extreme pressure to portray an image of perfection. In the role that religion plays in a persons' life this often results in the feeling that unless their life matches up to some "ideal" that they have been taught to believe, it can lead to the feeling of being a "failure". This, on turn can lead to a cycle of shame and guilt which simply compounds the problem.
It's important to realize that we aren't perfect,.. not even "close" to perfect,.. and never, in this life, will be.
The only perfect person who ever lived was Jesus Christ. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, something that a friend once told me. "Jesus didn't come into this world so that we could be like Him... He came because we " Couldn't". He came to die in our place and to give us His righteousness as a free gift.... through grace alone. No "Works" involved... no "striving for unattainable perfection"......

Parents, especially, can unknowingly have a negative impact on the emotions of a young person struggling to find their place in a world that portrays images of perfection. We are bombarded with advertisements and television programs which seem to solidify this belief of the "perfect life",... the "perfect body".
I personally believe that there is a great lack of communication between parents and their children and that many parents have abdicated their responsibility to teach and nurture correct thinking and have turned their children over to education via television, movies, music,... the mass media.
In my next blog I will address this issue of parenting further.

Hope you all have a great week!.....