The Gift of Gratefulness

My little chihuahua watched with piercing concentration as I sat down to eat my breakfast one morning. Hope and anticipation filled his eyes as he wondered and thought about what delicious morsels I must be devouring without him. As I took a bite of my pancake, I dropped a piece for him. He sniffed it thoroughly and decided against tasting it. I continued on. The next bite was filled with syrup and melted butter, so I thought, maybe he would like a piece of that. I dropped a small piece of dripping sticky pancake knowing he would be both my broom and mop on the hardwood floor.

He sniffed it and nothing……

It wasn’t good enough.


His taste buds were not geared for sweets like humans and he wanted no part of this meatless society.

I stared at his pleading face, as I looked over at his dog bowl which was full of dry dog food. I felt a God-like superiority over him as I analyzed how to best handle this 9-pound varment.

“Dude”, I said. ” you have a bowl full of water, a bowl full of food, and a sticky warm piece of flour and sugar right under your nose. Why aren’t you happy?”

I felt the irony in this statement before I even finished my sentence. Is this what God says to us?

Why aren't we happy?

Many studies, articles, and books address this in-depth. Millions and billions of dollars have been made trying to get us to find happiness. After years of self-help books, seminars, and searching among various forms of religions; I can truly say that happiness is only found within a place that none of these things can buy. Although I’m still convinced that if I were financially independent and secure, I could pursue this study 24/7 and get back to you on that 😘; it appears that by watching those who have immense wealth, it still isn’t enough. They are not satisfied. They seek higher positions of power and prestige. The balance between being content, having enough, and placating the human ego or the drive for more seems to be a hidden secret.

I do believe happiness is fleeting.

Moments of bliss, followed by disappointment. What more can we expect really? Do we want to be in a heightened state of euphoria always? As a mother of a person who uses drugs problematically; I can tell you what he has told me. He said this state of euphoria is so powerful that it keeps people stuck in the cycle of trying to find that peak again and again.

Are we any different? Our desires may not be illegal or reach the height of divorce, bankruptcy, jail or heaven forbid- death; but as I stated in this post, we all are just trying to fill our needs.

Of course, we should be grateful for any and every ounce of blissness we get. But what about our problems? Is there a way to be grateful for those?

When my kids were little, I know I worried like crazy with each little thing that “seemed” like a variant off of the beaten path. Like my substance use disorder son’s ADD. How hard for him to follow instructions and learn in the traditional school setting. But when he got put in the world and could do his own thing, he thrived. Until he, himself, wanted more. This video warmed my heart on that subject.

That little boy who seemed so out of sync with “others” had a power and talent all his own. Don’t we all? Just because we don’t fit into someone else box. Or just because someone’s journey (or recovery) isn’t going as fast as we want, or the direction we want.

Today I’m in complete gratefulness. My son has been in rehab for one week. That might not seem like a big deal but considering it’s what I’ve prayed for-for 2 years, it’s a miracle! The other strange thing is for the 30+ rehabs I have searched and written to in the last 2 years, my son ended up in one just a few miles from my house. I didn’t plan that but ultimately I’m grateful. The first few nights I tossed and turned worried he would show up at my door having walked out, but now I’m just taking of day by day. When he went in, I tried to give him one of these blue bracelets that states:

One Day At A Time

But he said that was “too rehab-ey”. Oh, that boy. My rehab-resistant but trying- his- hardest boy. I’m grateful for any scraps of pancakes or any scraps of willingness I can get.

The cherry on top – (or syrup & butter) will be when my son finds his happiness and his bliss- without substances of course.

May we all find our peace and our fleeting moments of happiness

Where to Stare In A Storm

Where to Stare in the Storm

A few months ago, my husband and I were caught in a thunderstorm in Texas that left us stranded in our car for over an hour. I wrote about it in this blog:


That storm ended up taking the lives of 2 missionaries later that day. I can’t believe how quickly I became fearful for our safety between the horrendous downpouring of rainwater flooding out the road to the high power lines above us just waiting to be struck by a lightning bolt and tumble onto our car.

I actually messaged my kids goodbye, just in case. I couldn’t believe this was how it was gonna end! I had no way of knowing if I would make it out, except that deep down I think I knew that I was being kept “afloat” until a solution could appear.

When we are going through a storm, all we can see is the chaos around us. We are caught in this tunnel of darkness that the tornado has thrust us into. It surrounds our physical and mental self and can be suffocating with the fear and dread. Sometimes we can’t see that the sun or Rainbow is right around the corner. Just like in our Texas storm- the rainbow. The promise of hope.

I love this meme because in our sincere pleading for the storm to end, we might be depriving yourself of the lessons or ideas that the storm might be leading us to. Thoughts and ideas that would not have came otherwise. Just hold on and get through it? Welcome what gratitude or appreciation for life that comes.

Listen to Max Lucado

“‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’ So He said, ‘Come.’ And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus” (Matthew 14:28-29).

Peter never would have made this request on a calm sea. I doubt Peter would have ever stepped out of the boat. Storms prompt us to take unprecedented journeys. For a few heart-stilling moments, Peter did the impossible. He defied every law of gravity and nature.

Matthew moves us quickly to the major message of the event, and that is where to stare in a storm. “But when [Peter] saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’” (v. 30).

Focus on Christ, you can do the impossible. Focus on the storm, you begin to sink.

Once you get through the storm – of course- it’s a matter of disentangling yourself from your ingrained habits, thoughts, & actions that were not made with a safe and clear head. Some people will hold those against you forever but what’s important is that you don’t hold them against yourself.

This is scripture from my particular church: Latter day Saints, which states how to rely on God through difficult trials. I love the art work.

If you’re in a storm, past the storm, or riding the wave of the storm please know that you can get through it intact, and even better than the storm found you! It’s so hard to imagine it while you’re suffering, but those are the times to rely on faith. Some people will only define you by what you did and said during that storm, and honestly that journey is on them. Forgiveness is a personal thing. Sometimes we only have the power to forgive ourselves.

Droughts & Doubts

I had just rested my head down on the soft freshly laundered pillowcases, after a long day of what seemed like a failure to accomplish anything. My dad, rest his soul, would have said:

Didn’t accomplish SQUAT.

Whatever that means….
I was feeling it.
The dejection.
Lack of progress.

The drought of summer.
Thirsty for more.....
Where's the water? Where's the hope?

As I laid there in my own self-inflicted pity party-powerless mode; I kept hearing noises. Things clanging. A whoosh. Hurried Activity.
“This is strange”,  I thought.

Is it really comng from outside?

I couldn’t be sure.

The neighborhood was usually very quiet.
See, when you live in a heightened state of anxiety every day; wrought with dips of depression, and moments of sheer panic; your sympathetic nervous system is always heightened. So it gets confused as to what’s a real threat.

Research suggests that chronic stress contributes to high blood pressure, promotes the formation of artery-clogging deposits, and causes brain changes that may contribute to anxiety, depression, and addiction..

Harvard health

Even though it usually takes more than this to get me to care about anything; I drug my exhausted mind with my body lagging behind, to the window. I see the trees violently waving their leaves in fury at an unknown enemy.
A Storm! Well that’s nice. We need it. We had been in a summer drought with 3 digit temperatures for weeks.

As I settled back into my comfy bed, my thoughts turned to my son who was stranded again, in Las Vegas. He doesn’t live in Vegas, or even in Nevada. Yet there he was; in full- on addiction like behavior- even though he insists he’s ‘not using’. This also happened back in February when he called me after 2 days of wandering through the casinos scrounging for food and water after his “friends” got arrested. He had no ID and one shoe, because they were in the truck that was impounded with the arrest.

You may ask:

“Arrested for what?”

Well I didn’t ask.

“Why not?”

Because, as a mom of an addicted loved one, we learn to not ask questions. Partly because we don’t want to know the answers and mostly because we won’t get a straight answer anyway.

How do I not grab the rope this time?
How do I put down the shovel? And any other catchphrases that admonish us to not get caught up in the chaos that addiction loves to hand out in droves.

This time I will lie my unbothered head down without a worry in the world and sleep like a baby.

This time will be different.
I won’t worry about him being stabbed or jumped in the night. I won’t worry about him dehydrating in the 110-degree heat. I won’t worry about him getting so desperate for money that he steals something.
Last time I bought him a hamburger and then breakfast after 8 hours of trying to get him someplace safe; along with 3 Uber rides and a bus ticket home.
This time I tried to order him food but after 45 minutes on hold and then a failed attempt online because he wasn’t sitting in the sportsman’s seats, he couldn’t pick it up. It was a $45 pizza anyway. So hopefully he found some food in the trash.

Oh, this life.

The Mom’s groups say: “Give it to God.”

I mean, yes, whatever’s gonna happen is going to happen, I get it. That doesn’t mean I can just turn my feelings off.

“Do something for yourself- live your life”.
You mean other than work 5-6 days a week, camping, rock collecting, travel, reading, cleaning, grandkids baseball games, swimming, gardening, writing a blog, and writing a book?”

Even while keeping busy and “living my life;” my sons’ problems are always on my mind. In drought or in storm, I feel the sting of his struggles and and the scope of damage his addiction is doing. I’m either thirsting for him to seek recovery, or wrought in gut- wrenching anxiety of him overdosing. (Or writing an article on his unsafe, ridiculous release from jail on a Saturday afternoon)

But this time will be different.

I won’t fall into the trap of enmeshment.

As I check my phone one more time to see if he’s online, I hear the storm start to pick up outside. It’s going to be a long night. Whether the storm is raging outside, or ravaging inside of me; I know tomorrow will be a new day, probably back to drought conditions. I will be calm again, I will be grateful again.

I guess the key is keeping my health at top priority, and keeping my nervous system regulated so as to not fall ill with stress and worry.

Knowing that my emotions will come and go, as the storms and droughts do. Being ok with whatever I’m feeling at the moment, and letting them pass through me without settling in. For I know if I let them stay rent free in my head, I am subject to a permanent storm of misery.

I drift off to sleep, imagining myself as one with the leaves and branches. Fighting the fury, yet remaining intact. Swaying with the wind yet not letting it damage me. It can’t hurt me anymore. Like a cactus standing strong in the heat of the desert, I can withstand the storms and droughts, as I make peace with my heart.