Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Child's Light

Have you seen the light in your child’s eyes? When was the last time you searched for it? If it’s been awhile it’s time to look again. If the light has dimmed now is the time to find out why. Has their passion for their favorite pass times diminished? Are they more withdrawn and distant? Don’t chalk it all up to growing up… it’s time to spot check where they are in their lives. Many of us as parents think this is just a phase they are going through and it very well may be. But this is also the time when drugs use seems to creep in, when they are changing and trying to figure out who they are and where they fit into the scheme of things.

Life is hard; young people have not yet developed their coping skills. Drug will retard their growth and ability to learn these necessary skills. Direction is very important at this pivotal point in their growth. Parents need to be watching and listening for the signs that drugs have begun their invasion into their children. It can happen so quickly and without warning sometimes. That is why it is so important to do your best to be one your toes at all times when raising children.

Young people are beginning to push the envelope early and early. Their descent in to destructive experimentation begins at a much earlier age then in generations passed. The bottom line is children are growing up faster so we must be more mindful of changes in their behaviors and appearance. It is not that we should not allow them to change and develop, we just need to watch that they are developing with positive attitudes, with goals and dreams that will lead them into adulthood with the proper skills they need to become happy, well adjusted, productive citizens.

Parents – be there… be aware!


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A call from God

As I was running errands today I was listening to the radio and the announcer was talking about spiritual gifts and how different folks are called to minister in different ways and each individual must discern what their gifts actually are and how to use them. I always had a gift for gab and I was never afraid to speak in front of a crowd, but I never would have thought that God would lead me to this place.

I remember as my daughter's addiction became more intense and we were all dealing with the stress, pain and fear of the situation it occured to me that I was pretty tough (ha! little did I know at the time it wasn't my strength at all). I loved her so much, I would do anything and everything to try and save her, even if she didn't want to be saved... (ahhh the rub of addiction... we can't save anyone who doesn't want to be saved.) I was so glad that she was my daughter, that God blessed me with her. What if she had ended up with a mother that just threw her away instead of loving her unconditionally? I thanked God for her precious life. I knew God then, I believe in Christ then... but what I didn't know was that God was ever more present than I ever knew... I did not at that point have a real, true relationship with my Jesus.

So much pain in drug addiction, so much fear, every moment is filled with uncertainity... where is she tonight? Is she safe? Is she alive? When is she coming home. Sleeplessness... night after night... walking the city streets at 2:00 am looking for her... facing drug dealers on their turf... God was surely protecting me... every night I was there asking the Lord to protect my baby girl where ever she was and to save her from this horrible drug. Heal her please dear Lord... heal her.

And then he did... one Sept. 1, 2007... he took my baby home... He healed her scars, He restored her peace and she rests with Him... serving Him... filled with Joy!!!
And I... well I gather my strength every day from God, my Lord fills me with His presence and I step out again and again to tell our story... her story... to try and reach as many young people and their parents as I can. Fulfilling my calling from God. Thank you Lord for loving me and directing me.

Dear Heavenly Father... watch over these young ones - let them come to know you and be set free from drugs and alcohol. Let them grow drug free to find their own calling - a gift from you. In Jesus' name. Amen

I love you pumpkin..


Monday, February 22, 2010

A new day

When young people embrace the use of drugs/alcohol for whatever reason they lose a part of themselves. Looking back on my daughters early drug years I remember clearly the changes in her. The defensive attitude, the deepening resentment she had about who she was, the rebellion against authority - she believed she found her independence when in truth she was becoming more dependent than ever. Teens will argue that they know exactly what they are doing and that they are in control of every situation. The more substance abuse - the more defiant they become. Why? Because the drugs become their comfort, their friend, the only thing they believe makes them a better person. More desirable to others and themselves. Drugs allow them to "be who they are", to "feel good", to "laugh", to "speak their minds"... drugs... yes drugs give them all this courage they might not have had before. False courage... but they don't see it that way at all.

In my small groups the majority of teens really believe the lie of independence they speak so openly about. It matters not to them that they are in trouble with the law. Why should it? It will be wiped away when they are adults, this is their time to do as they please with little consequence. Drugs feel good... the law - it doesn't apply to them and "laws are meant to be broken - right"? When I hear how casually they take their life situation it breaks my heart. But my daughter was the same way, in her case it was all about killing the pain. Why deal with life when you can erase it for a while.

How I wish I could go back and this time utilize all that I have learned since her death. Parents, hear me when I say this... learn from others around you, if not from me... then someone else who has been there and back. Boundaries, rules, consequences... important, important, important... ask for help if you need it. Teach them to love who they are... show them what is special about them!! Check yourself, your reactions - what foundation are you setting in place for your children?


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Where were your children last night?

Do you know where your children were last night, what they were doing and who they were doing it with?? I'm talking about all your children... all ages. What were your younger children doing? Were they watching TV, playing video games... or were they reading, coloring, using their imaginations? Were they spending quality time with you and perhaps their siblings? Your "tweens" and teens who were they spending their Saturday night with? Were they active? Were they passive? Were they partying? Do you know, did you check on them? Did you call other parents? Do you even know the parents of your tweens and teens? Too many questions for a Sunday morning? Perhaps, but they are all pertinent questions, all of them need review.

It used to be that parents knew each other. Mothers and fathers would talk among themselves... keeping track of their children's activities. These days were lucky to know our neighbors by their first name. There are parents out there that justify allowing alcohol to be consumed in their home in the "name of safety"... 'if they are drinking here and staying here then we know they are safe'. That my friends is a bunch of hogwash and is totally irresponsible parenting. There is no justification for allowing children to break the law. The law was put in place for a reason, adults need to lead by example! Allow them to break one law and they will push to break another or develop the attitudes that rules don't apply to me - they apply to everyone else not me!

I am amazed at how many parents are actually doing drugs with their kids. What is that about? How can they justify their actions? I cannot imagine how they can allow their children to follow down a destructive path such as this but it is becoming more and more of a problem. School districts are finding it harder and harder to reach out to these youths because parents will not allow intervention. Very, very sad state of affairs.

Okay, take stock... where do you stand on these issues. What example do you want to set for all your children?

Your younger children... are you spending quality time with them? Do they have an electronic babysitter? Are you allowing them to use their imagination in their play? Are they watching your behavior and learning positive things from you. Good communication... personal interaction... faith in God... how to make a positive difference in the world.

Your tweens and teens... do they know you are watching them? Are they left to their own devices when setting boundaries for right and wrong? Let them know you are their parents not their friends... let them know you care enough to check up on them and monitor their behavior, actions and reactions...teach them faith, give them a foundation, give them strong roots so that they can stretch their wings without fear.

Let your entire family know you love them... teach them well. Learn from my weaknesses... learn...


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Tough kids vs. Strong kids

I remember when Angela was little I used to remark "what a tough little girl" she was, she had been through so much. He birth father walked away from her at the age of three. She was never lacking from love though, mom and I did everything we could to surround her with love and friends. Mom and Dad had separated as well so grammy and grampy weren't the solid foundation she once had in her life. But as a child she seemed resilient and was happy and loving and playful. Ang always had a smile and a hug for everyone. She was smart as a whip, loved to learn and was ahead of her time. This tough little girl began to fade as she entered middle school and all the pain came to the surface... here's the point.

I have learned the hard way the difference between raising a tough kid and a strong one. I urge you not to make the same mistakes I made in assuming they are one and the same because that is far from the truth.

Tough they grow up often become more hardened in their nature. As a troubled teenagers Ang took on the persona of a gangster chick. Showing herself as "hard core tough". Rough around the edges, she could handle anything baby... just watch me - I can kick your butt... the outside persona she created was much different from the scared little girl that was crying out inside her. In private she was frail and child-like needing to wear the mask of a tough girl just to be part of the outside world.

When you raise a child to be tough, they sometimes perceive that as being a bully, teasing others in order to flex their muscles. Often being the leaders of their clique making it known to others that they are just not the "right" kind of person for their group. The problem with tough is that they never learn how to draw strength, how to become strong in their character. They don't develop the skills they need to be part of all that lies ahead of them in adulthood. Tough will only get you so far; limiting their growth and potential. It seems I raised a tough kid who never really learned to draw of God's love to give her strength. She never realized her power, never owned who God intended her to become and that my friends is just sad.

Teaching children to find strength is showing them how to believe in who they are without stepping on anyone else in the process. God gives each of us all we need to be all He wants us to be. As parents it is our job to help them find out where their strengths lie and help them develop them. It is our duty to lead these little blessings from God down the path that teaches them to love themselves and those around them. To teach them patience, faith, kindness... to give them a solid foundation on which to gather strength in times of trouble. To build a character which is true to itself which shows its "strength" through positive actions and reactions to life.

Are using raising a tough child or a strong child? I urge you to consider this carefully. Teens often turn to drugs and alcohol to make themselves "stronger", to cope with pain and boredom. This is a false strength and a false security which leads them down a path of negative actions and reactions. I know - I've watched the destruction and I live with the pain of losing my precious gift from God.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Who is the teacher?

Let me ask you this... who is teaching your children? From the time they are small it should be their parents that are their greatest teachers. As infants and toddlers we are all too willing to be there every step of the way, teaching them to walk, talk, use a cup, potty training and the list goes on and on. But somewhere along the line when they start school many of us begin to back off a bit and expect the professional teachers to do the bulk of the work from that point on.

Hold on!!!! Don't lose them there!!! They need you more than ever!!!! They need your love and guidance. They need to be taught not to bully and tease. To be kind to others, to turn the other cheek, to be thoughtful and considerate. It's our job as parents to teach them manners, good posture, how to be healthy, how to work hard and do their best in all things. It's our job to teach them about beauty and God and how to gain strength through their faith. We need to be teaching children about life - not letting life teach them.

When we let life be their teacher we end up giving power to the media, to other children, teenagers, etc. leaving our youth to fend for themselves. That my friends is dangerous business. Young people let to their own devices may follow down paths of destruction, drugs, alcohol, violence. Adults - this is our job, your job... to teach them well... to pray for them... lead them in the way in which they should go.


Horray & Thank You

A big loving thank you to MGYSGT Nicholson, Ret. of North Carolina for being the first to donate to the BrokenButLoved cause... Taking Action Against Teen Substance Abuse. Thank you first and foremost to your dedication and service to our country as a US Marine and then secondly (but just as importantly) for your continued dedication to serving our country by helping to support organizations like BrokenButLoved that are trying to help the youth of our republic. God Bless you...

Want to help visit for information where you can send your private donation. BBL is a 501 (c) 3 registered nonprofit organization.

Blessings everyone!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

We are broken people

We are all broken people, in some way. Teens seem to have more than their share of folks pointing out to them just how broken they are and not enough folks showing them how special they are. Trying to fit in to the right "crowd", to gain popularity somewhere within their generation is a constant looming necessity for them. All it takes is one little thing for them to be cast out or voted out of whatever group they fit in to... that is with the exception of those who are drugging and drinking. As long as you have money or trade you can stay.

I remember my daughter's pre-drug years. She was in the "smart and popular" crowd. Going to all the right social engagements, being seen with all the "right" girls and guys. All it took was one show of her own thoughts separate from theirs and she was cast aside like a chewing gum wrapper. Not only cast aside but then ridiculed to top it off - making sure the "world" knew she no longer "fit in" with the "chosen few".

This was devastating to her and looking back I did not do enough as a parent to help her regain her self esteem. We need to be mindful as adults of what our young people are going through on any given day. Are we present for them? Are we lifting them up every single day? Are we watching their moods closely? Are we just chalking everything up to "growing pains"? Big mistake folks... we need to be watching, monitoring and then gently steering them back to center. Back to looking at how special they are within themselves. We need to be teaching them the coping skills they need to find their way, to find out who they are and what they can accomplish, how to to stand for something.

It sadness my heart to see how fragile friendship has become in the last 20 years. Young people aren't sure how to be a good friend, how to stay a good friend. They are uncertain of how to be who they are when everyone around them is trying so hard to be somebody else.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

You already have all you need

One thing I strongly impress upon the young people that I talk with is that they were born with everything they need to succeed in life. God gave them the tools, the instincts, the talents...each unique to who they are and who they were meant in this life. No one is "stamped" with a note "please bombard this body with drugs and alcohol in order to achieve ultimate joy". They each need to explore and develop those talents and gifts by looking inside and putting in the hard work of growing up.

Just as important is that parents understand that they need to help their children along in this process; they cannot leave their young people to do this on their own. The animal kingdom does not even do this... they help their young learn the skills they need in order to just survive. Teaching our young people to merely survive just isn't enough. It's important to nuture youth, to show them love, affection and the art of discipline in order for them to find their way to becoming productive citizens- drug free citizens. This first comes from teaching them how to be part of a family unit. They need to know and understand their role, importance and responsibility within their family. Yes, responsibility is part of equation.

When we leave children to their own devices they are often left floundering aimlessly following whatever or whomever will allow them to be part of their crowd.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Life Well Spent

How do we define a life well spent? As I meet with teens on a regular basis and talk about their drug and alcohol use it occurs to me that their understanding of how what they do today effects their future is either non-existent or irrelavent. I try so hard to help them comprehend the ripple effect of their youthful drug use and how very often is carries over into adulthood. This generation know nothing of moderation - everything is extreme. It's an all or nothing generation and they take it quite literally.

Teens need to see the results of a life well spent in those who come in contact with them on a daily basis. Family, teachers...adults who set an example of excellence not perfection... excellence. Mistakes are a part of life they are expected. It is how the adults in their life help them process those mistakes and learn to make better choices that leads them to strive for excellence in themselves.

Teach them to forgive... others and themselves... by setting the right example.