Last week I wandered into an art gallery to look around. I saw inspiration in the watercolors, charcoal paintings, and photography. In viewing the art one could sense an array of sentiments, including bittersweet emotion; that one emotion my heart knows too well.
The curator of the gallery greeted me and we started up conversation as it was just he and I in the gallery. I asked the man if his art was displayed and would he share it with me and he immediately walked over to his published books of his stunning photography. In one of his books he aligned his photography with poetry that had been written by his grandmother years earlier. Such a treasure. I commented that I enjoyed writing myself and had also published a book of my own and explained a little of its content. Recognition and sadness could be found in the eyes of the man as my words left my lips. The pain painted across his face was obvious as he shared that he had lost his son to a drug overdose. That dad was hurting and as we chatted I could sense the anger frustration and resentment in his dialogue. There was absolutely no joy nor bittersweet emotion to.be noted in that dad. It came to me that my happenstance into this gallery had been divinely orchestrated.
Of late I’ve been introduced to several people who are suffering from the same circumstance. They’ve lost their children to addiction and drug overdose. It brings such hurt to my heart. It brings me back to the day I lost my roommate who died from her own drug overdose on New Years Day back in the 80’s. It was at that time, the most painful death that I had encountered in my young life and I don’t believe I’ve ever truly processed it. To learn now of so many young lives being robbed due to addiction is hopeless and tragic. For weeks now I have sensed a tug at my heartstrings to write about this very subject and yesterday it became evident that it’s what I next needed to address in my blog posting.
As I sat on the beach yesterday, with my notebook and began to write, my husband shouted: “look out”! With that, a large beautiful monarch butterfly flew at my face and then circled and landed on my back. My husband took pictures as this gave me such joy. For those who have not read my book nor have knowledge of our story, butterflies have been outstanding Godwinks for myself and Kenzie’s friends. We had a butterfly launch at her would be high school graduation and Kenzie’s “besties” released seventy-seven monarch butterflies following graduation. Butterflies seem to appear as a sign that God is with me and the spirit of Makenzie, as well. The butterfly in this picture allowed me to hold it and then after it detached I left it sitting on the cooler next to my beach chair. It actually stayed there on the cooler next to us for over ten minutes. This was my Godwink; affirmation that what I was inspired to write was His intention.
Another recent occurrence was that one of Makenzie’s childhood friends shared her story on social media about her addiction and journey back. I had absolutely no idea! I connected with her and asked if I could share her story and she agreed.
Here is her testimony:
“Four years ago today I made a choice to change. Four years ago today I went to the emergency room thinking that I was dying. I knew telling the truth and admitting defeat would be my only option. I was puking and shitting (TMI) my brains out, shaking like a leaf, couldn’t sit still, my skin itching like there was a million ants crawling all over me. Staring at the ceiling I was deciding if I should tell the truth or lie. The ER doctor came in and I told him I was going through withdrawals. I hadn’t had any pain medication in over forty-eight hours and asked him to please give me something to stop that feeling. From that day forward my road to recovery started. It wasn’t easy. My doctor called me every two hours on the dot for two weeks! I had to take a survey with her on the phone to see how I was doing. She never gave up on me and so I didn’t give up on myself either. Even though I felt like I was being stabbed on every place of my body I knew I only had to get through the next two hours. Time felt like it stood still. It was miserable! I’m four years sober. I’ve not once relapsed. I’ve not been tempted in anyway to go back. Why? Because I can’t even explain to you what those withdrawals felt like and I NEVER want to go through that again EVER! My life has been so much better not constantly worrying about where I could get them ( pain meds), messaging everyone that I knew. I had a problem that was ruining my life, my relationships, everything. I’m so much better now! I’ve barely had ANY issues with my kidneys anymore ( my debilitating illness being the initial reason for my drug use). Flare-ups here and there but nothing extremely bad. I will NEVER put another pain medication in my body unless I’m seriously injured and have no choice but to do so! I’m so thankful for my doctor who took two weeks out of her life, her schedule, her sleep to make sure she called me every two hours twenty-four hours a day! I am grateful for Leo for pushing me into getting help for not him nor Tristan ( our son) but for myself. I am thankful for my parents for their help in supporting my detox. I feel bad as well for everyone who had to see me go through that time and I am sorry to everyone that I ever hurt while being clouded by my drug of choice! I’m happy and sober and I will forever be thankful that I stopped before it got completely out of control! I am just thankful for my life!!! I don’t want this to seem like I’m bragging or judging anyone who has been down this road and it may not have been as easy for them. I’m not bragging that I’m not an addict anymore because I am. I am an addict and I will be an addict for the rest of my life, that’s not something that will ever change! But now I’m In control, not a drug! Me!” ❤️❤️
So my message to Elizabeth was this:
“Your post sooo brave!! Thank God you had a doctor who chose to really serve you. Thank God you did not give up on you. You were given a second chance (by God) and you grabbed it. Elizabeth will you allow me to use your narrative in my blog piece? My blog is read all over the world.. perhaps it (your story) can help someone or many.
This my sweet friend, I believe is your purpose.. to share your story to help others “?
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”
So I’ve been thinking about our God of second chances and wanted to share a portion of the devotional email that I received today:
Nothing that is not God’s will can come into the life of one who trusts and obeys God. This fact is enough to make our life one of ceaseless thanksgiving and joy. For “God’s will is the one hopeful, glad, and glorious thing in the world”; and it is working in the omnipotence for us all the time, with nothing to prevent it if we are surrendered and believing.
In the center of the circle of the will of God I stand. There can come no second causes, All must come from His dear hand. All is well! for ’tis my Father who my life hath planned.
Shall I pass through waves of sorrow? Then I know it will be best; Though I cannot tell the reason, I can trust, and so am blest.
God is Love, and God is faithful, So in perfect peace I rest, with the shade and with the sunshine, with the joy and with the pain, Lord, I trust Thee, both are needed, each Thy wayward child to train,
Earthly loss, did we but know it, Often means our heavenly gain. –I. G. W.
From Crosswalks.com (Aug. 14, 2017)
My visit that day at the art gallery lasted longer than I had expected. I figured that I needed to share my story as well as my faith with that very bitter dad. He told me that he wasn’t religious and that he and God had an understanding. I shared with him how my faith in Christ carried me through the dark times and blessed me with even joy above and beyond the bittersweet. I asked the dad how he was using his son’s tragedy to help others. He told me that he had shared his son’s story years earlier at a few speaking engagements but had done nothing for a long time. And so I encouraged him to get back to it as it could help him with the healing even now, eleven years later, as it serves others in his son’s memory for a bigger purpose.
God will use us in His own pre-designed capacity if we say a resounding yes Lord, send me! What if we said: “Send me out to listen, Lord, send me out to share; send me to reach others with your loving care”? Perhaps by serving one another even when we are suffering in our own despair, He will transform us; change our bitter into bittersweet.
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.