Recovering Addicts on Faith and Sobriety, A Guest Post by Amanda Bartow

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By Amanda Bartow

Many people are left feeling hopeless and devoid of happiness when they’re addicted to drugs or alcohol, but those who go through the recovery process often regain that missing piece of their life. Many even gain a closer relationship with God.

Faith can help a recovering addict stick with their sobriety, but likewise, sobriety can help someone find God and keep Him close at all times.

Eric, who abused drugs (including heroin) for two years, received significant help from A Forever Recovery’s faith-based track.

“I was just sucked in — I just loved it and everything about it,” he said. “The people that run it are awesome. We just have a good time — we sing, we get into the Word. I’m definitely going to continue that… I’m going to enroll in celebratory recovery classes and go to church. We all really come together and support each other. It’s just a great group of people here. You’ve got to do this for the right reasons and put the work in. I’m not going to say it’s easy, because it’s tough work. But what’s six to seven weeks compared to the rest of your life? Every time you load that needle up or do whatever you do, it’s like playing Russian Roulette. It’s the truth.”

Alex was using OxyContin, Opana and painkillers before going to treatment, where he too received help from God.

“Without my faith, I don’t believe I would have made it this far,” he said. “It instilled the values that I hold dear in my heart, and it really just helped me get through tough times. We did baptisms. I didn’t plan on getting baptized the day I did at all, but something spoke to me and told me, ‘Go ahead. Go through with it. Go into the water.’ And it was a really refreshing experience. It was like an old piece of me died and a new heart was beginning. I knew that my addiction and drugs were a problem, but I knew the main problem was with myself and how I dealt with hardships and disappointments. It blew me out of the water learning what I could do with myself.

“They helped me handle those negative emotions and gave me coping skills in so many different ways,” he continued. “They didn’t say, ‘Here’s the way we’re going to do it. Here’s the way you’re always going to do it.’ It’s not like that.

“Definitely get the help you need. I can’t speak enough on how valuable it is that you get help, and you ask for help. You can’t do it alone. I could not have done this alone. I strictly urge you to follow through with your instinct to get help.”

Wesley, another recovering addict, thanks God for the people who are “on the front lines of withdrawal” who “paved the way” and gave him the opportunity to give himself a chance at life.

“My favorite part, although it was hard for me, was to take an opportunity to give my growth some consideration,” he said. “I’ve gained some tools, some insight, some awareness to be able to not misplace hostility on people who have nothing to do with what is going on inside my head. I’m not scared because I’ve been prepared for the inevitable, and that is to take back my life. … Now I’m ready to move on with my life. I’m ready to be a productive member of society and take back a life that I so irresponsibly threw away.”

Addiction recovery facilities like A Forever Recovery and others are making a huge impact on people’s lives. Clearly, God and the faith He gives to people deserves a great deal of the credit as well.

Amanda Bartow believes there is only one greater feeling than being recognized for a job well done — the fulfillment that comes from honoring someone’s achievements! This is what inspired her to join the Recognition Works team. (Recognition Works is an organization that recognizes outstanding people.)

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Join America’s Love Army at thedreamcorp.org

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Go here to join the Love Army

Join the Love Army at The Dream Corp. Van Jones is right: bringing Americans back together is not a political matter. It’s a matter of values. What is truly valuable? It’s not stuff. It’s life itself and having family and friends to share it with. It’s being willing to see what all humans have in common; and allowing for our differences. It’s making a positive difference in our communities. It’s expressing kindness and understanding; and being willing to agree to disagree, without violence. It’s looking beyond the surface into the soul, from where what is beautiful in you and me shines.

For more about Van Jones, go to Van Jones interview.

Have Faith in Your Life and Yourself, A Guest Post by Mike Hopkins

Have faith in your life and faith in yourself. There is nothing to fear. A way will be made for you, but first, you must make a clear decision and act upon it. For faith is not enough.

 Faith must be followed by activity. It is not enough to know of events; one must take action to help the internal dreams to be manifested into physical reality.

Within us all lies the seeds to our destruction, but also within each heart, lies the seeds to one’s reconstruction as a human being–from one driven by fear to one driven by love. It is each person’s responsibility to live in a way that nurtures and supports the good within. It takes effort to weed a garden so the plants grow healthy and strong.

 There are no techniques or devices or systems that will lead one to one’s deliverance from human suffering. This has been a misunderstanding for many thousands of years. Only through right action will one evolve into a true human being. Change one’s behavior by living in a way that enriches and supports a healthy body, mind, and spirit.

Be responsible and part of the human community and have no concern for all the false ones who teach fear and lack of concern for their fellow humans. Live by example. Give your love freely. For, in freedom is grown a loving and kind heart.

Do not despair for yourself or others. You will have just what you need, just when you need it. All future events cannot and will not be revealed. It is best just to accept what life has to offer to you and join with the Creator in creating a world that is better suited for kind-hearted, loving human beings. For as long as the dishonest and hate-filled ones rule, life in this world will always be filled with sadness and disappointment.

©  M.N. Hopkins

Posted from: http://mnhopkins.blogspot.se/2016/09/have-faith-in-your-life-faith-in.html

Connection, Compassion and Love, A Guest Post By Michael Brine, Mike Hopkins and Maggie

As difficult as the news is every day, as much as the media has a need to keep us informed of dark, depressing matters, there is equal goodness all around us. (I know that a good deal of us have suffered losses that can only be measured in tears, and that the pain can linger. When enough time has passed, we take little steps back into life, working up the courage to take a swing at living again. I guess that’s the point–that we all know what loss is and yet, most of us get through it and carry on anyway. Really, what are our alternatives?)

Here my amazing online friends share here their tender stories of connection, compassion and love, for wherever there is union and healing, there is Love. We must all remember our own stories of care and goodness, both given and received, and we must share them, for they are needed now. We must share our stories until they become a Love-tsunami more powerful than any of the physical kind. The miracle of being alive now is the miracle of healing. We are all called to share great Love and oneness with each other and All That Is. We are called!

Here is a correspondence between Mike Hopkins, Michael Brine and Maggie. Continue reading

Never Wander Far From Your Heart’s Light, A Guest Post from Mike Hopkins

Stay True to Light

Sometimes I think of all the sickness in our world.

If one becomes engaged in this sickness,

over time one will become sick.

So live within the darkness of men and women,

yet hold tight upon the Light.

Never wander far from your Heart’s Light.

Live amongst men and women and

participate in community.

Yet, do not join in the dark intentions of those

who manipulate others for their own purposes.

Stay true to the Light within yourSelf

So as to show a way out of the madness

of men and women.

© 2016    M.N. Hopkins
My thanks to: http://mnhopkins.blogspot.se/2016/07/never-wander-far-from-your-hearts-light.html

A Review of the Book and Cards, “Medicine Cards”

I’ve written about love and compassion here quite a bit, so it’s to be expected that I would have to face my own fears and shadow self, and see my own doubts and then, to be honest with myself and you, share them along the way. Though my childhood in this life would not be called easy, I sense that I brought some darkness with me, a darkness that has shown itself as nagging doubts about my self-worth, my spiritual commitment and whether or not I am truly loved by God. In the past, the feeling has come as an overwhelming wave of self-hate. I’m writing about this because this blog is a part of my journey.

Years ago I made a necklace that came into being looking like a simple Native Indian work. It prompted me to pull a box off my bookshelf book called Medicine Cards by Jamie Sams and David Carson, which includes a wisdom-book and a smaller box of Medicine Cards, painted by Angela Werneke, of a variety of animals. Drawing the cards from the deck with a spiritual purpose, I am tapping into Native Indian philosophy and wisdom.

The authors of Medicine Cards explain,

“Our intention, as shamans and healers, is to begin a process for many people who have never understood their connection to Mother Earth and her creatures … [and] of what it means to walk in balance on the Earth Mother. Our dream animals have asked for our assistance in spreading the understanding that all life is sacred.

When calling on the power of an animal, you are asking to be drawn into complete harmony with the strength of that creature’s essence. Gaining understanding from these brothers and sisters of the animal kingdom is a healing process and must be approached with humility and intuitiveness.”

I had used this book before and looked through a bunch of files and I found my notes, dated April 24, 2001. That day, I found my nine Totem Animals (guides that remain the same for a lifetime); used the Pathway Spread to learn about life-lessons patterns; and the Moon Lodge Spread, to learn the state of my personal unconscious, to uncover the lies and self-deceptions I had been using to thwart my spiritual growth. I guess that explains why I didn’t pick up the book again until ten years later. Chicken wasn’t one of the totem animals, but, cluck-cluck, it applies here.

I looked inside the book and found another spread called the Medicine Wheel. ‘Medicine’ in the Native Indian way is defined in the book as:

“Anything that improves one’s connection to the Great Mystery and to all of life…Medicine is also anything that brings personal power, strength, and understanding. It is the constant living of life in a way that brings healing to the Earth Mother and all associates, family, friends, and fellow creatures…it is an all-encompassing ‘way of life,’ for it involves walking on the Earth Mother in perfect harmony with the Universe.”

Wow–walking on the Earth Mother in perfect harmony with the universe. How many of us walk in this manner, giving thanks to the Great Spirit for everything in our lives and to the animals and plants who give their lives to become our food? It is a worthwhile goal, one I hope is not impossible.

The Medicine Wheel spread is used to reflect on the personality and to see how we learn from ourselves, other people and animals. Sounded good to me. After shuffling, I drew five cards and placed them on a table in the four directions, East, South, West and North and one in the center, which is the Sacred Mountain Card. Each direction has its own meaning.

There are two messages for each card, one if the card is right-side up when you pull it out and one if the card is upside-down, which the authors refer to as ‘Contrary.’ My shadow-self doesn’t want to share the cards I drew, but my Higher Self does:

**The first card, East, represents where our spiritual strengths lie and the challenges to seeing clearly in the present situation.

EAST: Moose. Is about not needing approval, and experiencing the joy of a job well done, about the joy in giving encouragement but also in warning. Moose is about a new sense of self and accomplishment. Contrary Message: Ego can ruin a sense of accomplishment. It is about tooting my own horn and failing to be interested in others. It is a need to recognize that everyone is a teacher for everyone else, and there is a need to grow quiet for a while to let wisdom enter my heart.

**Second is South, with the animal guide helping our inner children learn what we need to nurture and to trust ourselves.

SOUTH: Blue Heron. Blue Heron indicates an unawareness of who I am and where I belong. Follow intuition and begin the journey of self-realization. Low self-worth and self-pity means I will never truly understand my true potential. A lack of courage in facing the critical enemy within. See my motives, actions, feelings, dreams, goals, strengths and weakness. Contrary Message: Too much self-reflection can lead to self-obsession. If criticizing self, watch out! It is imprudent to drown the sense of joy that accompanies the journey of self-discovery. Perfection leaves no room for being human. Our most valuable lessons are learned from our mistakes. Balance the desire to change with gentle discernment. Dive deep into feelings and emerge renewed, not judgmental, rigid, and flat, which breaks the spirit. Do not expect to find the many layers of truth and wholeness in one dive. Don’t hold my breath for enlightenment or let the collective feelings of humanity drown me.

**Third is West, showing the internal solution to present life challenges and what we need to reach our goals.

WEST: Dog. Serving others or humanity in some way. The guardian embodies the loving gentleness of the best friend with the protective energy regarding territory. Delve deeply into my sense of service to others. Have I forgotten that I owe allegiance to my personal truth? Have the opinions of others jaded my loyalty to a friend? Have I ignored someone who is trying to be my friend? Have I been loyal and true to my goals?

**Fourth is North, which integrates the other cards and is the key to walking in wisdom by connecting to our highest purpose and intentions.

NORTH: Antelope. Knowledgeable action. Symbolizes the antenna of the hair, which attaches us to the Great Mystery. Action is the key and the essence of living. Antelope medicine gives strength of mind and heart. Call on antelope when balled up. Antelope sends ingenious solutions. Antelope indicates a higher purpose and forces action for self, family, clan, nation and Mother Earth. It is time—do it now.

**Fifth is the card in the center of the spread; it shows how to see the present as a crossroads of spiritual and physical realities and how they have melded, to show whether or not we are in balance and what to do about it.

CENTER: Deer. Deer is the gentle spirit, filled with love and compassion for all. With love, deer moves the bullies away from the door to the Great Spirit. Creates safety. Contrary Message: Means I’m courting my fears by fighting the internal demons of negative ideas. Need to love myself enough to deeply feel my fears and let them go. The balance to power is the love and compassion of Deer, who teaches unconditional love, accessed from the heart space of the Great Spirit who loves us all.

I really love these cards. With them, for whatever the reasons, I can count on honest guidance from the Divine, even if it’s hard to face. This is a priceless gift and I give my gratitude to Jamie Sams and David Carson, their mentors and all of dear Mother Nature’s Creature-Teachers. Thank you, Friends.

Medicine Cards is a book of sincere and profound wisdom, for all who want to see the truth of our personalities and our spiritual natures; and to make more meaningful relationships with nature.