Doug’s CR Story

From Drug Addiction to Life in Ministry: Doug’s Celebrate Recovery Story
By Celebrate Recovery
Recovery Road

My name is Doug, and I’m a faithful believer in Jesus who’s in recovery for substance abuse. I grew up in a good, God-fearing home. I have two wonderful parents that loved and provided for me. You could say that I had a good childhood, but a very sheltered one. I was 15 years old the first time I smoked marijuana. I liked it! I liked the way it made me feel, carefree and very chilled out. At first it was only a once-in-a-while thing at parties or camping out with friends on the weekends. It didn’t take long for this to become an every-chance-I-could experience to eventually an everyday habit. At first I didn’t buy it, just smoking when someone around me had it. Eventually I was not only buying it, but getting some for other people. This was the beginning of years of dealing drugs to feed my own habit.

I wish I could say that marijuana was where I drew the line, but I went to places where other drugs were also available. Marijuana brought me into a drug culture where people were buying and selling all kinds of drugs.

When I was 18 years old I tried LSD. Wow, was that an experience. I didn’t know it yet, but I had an addictive personality. I loved the effects that acid had on my state of mind and the euphoria it gave me. I was still smoking a lot of pot and now hashish. Binge drinking was a common event as well. I was “having fun,” or so I thought. I was a drug addict and didn’t realize it at the time. Through the next couple of years, I started using cocaine and speed, not all the time at first, but it soon became a common occurrence in my life. I was selling drugs, stealing, and doing anything else I could to continue to get as high as I wanted, when I wanted (which was all the time).

I was a full-blown drug addict, but when I turned twenty-two it got worse. Someone introduced me to prescription pain medication (OxyContin) and my life took a turn for the worse. Pills became my life’s goal and it came to a point that I couldn’t afford my habit, even though I was selling pills. One day I was with a friend who had heroin. I tried it and instantly fell in love with it. Within a few months I was injecting it, and for the next eleven years this was my method of drug use. In just seven years I was a junkie. I quit smoking marijuana (something I loved doing) because it didn’t give me the high I needed.

Those were the darkest years of my life. I was now a strung-out drug dealer, selling thousands of dollars’ worth a day and using about four to five hundred dollars’ worth a day. I sold drugs to two different close friends resulting in their overdose and death. I sponsored two abortions during this time period. My moral compass was broken. I didn’t care about anyone, not even myself. My drug addiction got to the point that if you couldn’t inject it, I didn’t use it.

One day in June 2010, I woke up like any other day during the previous 18 years (11 as a junkie). I left the house expecting to make a drug deal, but God had other plans. While I was driving, I heard a voice and felt a presence unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The voice said that if I would get close to him, he would get close to me (James 4:8). I instantly knew it was God and that my whole life was wrong. I started to cry, and I hadn’t done that in years; it felt good. Problem was I didn’t know anything about God. I contacted a local pastor and, instead of making that drug deal, met this man at his church and gave my life to Christ.

Within two weeks, I was clean and sober from all drugs. What Jesus did for me that day was change my “want to.” I no longer wanted to get high. Praise God! That’s a miracle! My life Scripture is Psalm 40:1-3, “I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord” (NLT).

Today I’m an ordained minister, associate pastor of a church, and WV State Representative for Celebrate Recovery. I share my experiences to let others know there is hope. Is marijuana a gateway drug? It was for me! Does everyone who smokes pot become a junkie? No. But every junkie I’ve ever known started out smoking marijuana. For me, marijuana led me down a dark hole that only God’s love and grace could bring me out of. Just remember, no matter if it’s marijuana or heroin—there is hope.

Thank you for letting me share.

 

Seth’s CR Story

Once Addicted, Now in Ministry – Seth’s Celebrate Recovery Story

By Celebrate Recovery

Once Addicted, Now in Ministry – Seth’s Celebrate Recovery Story

 

My name is Seth, and I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ. My struggles with drug and alcohol addiction brought me into recovery.

I grew up in a small town in North Central West Virginia. My family included a loving mother, a father who expected perfection, and a sister with whom I competed for my parents’ attention.

At school, I craved to fit in with everybody. This led to my first experience with drugs and alcohol in 7thgrade. By my freshman year in high school, I was drinking alcohol every weekend and smoking marijuana every day.

When I graduated high school with honors, I was a fully functioning drug addict. I was captain of the soccer team, an all-conference performer in basketball, and a member of student council and honor society.  I was also using hard drugs regularly and selling them to classmates to support my habits.

I followed my friends from high school to a small college about 45 minutes north of my hometown. I drank every day for over two years straight, not even missing a major holiday like Christmas or Thanksgiving, and experimented with every drug available to me. Soon after graduating, I discovered what became my drug of choice, OxyContin. It was an instant love affair. It took away my feelings of worthlessness and made me feel like Superman.

After college, I landed a job as a registered nurse at a big university hospital.  For the first year, I could keep my ballooning addiction to painkillers and my career separate. This all changed one morning when I entered the elevator after a long and trying night shift. I got on the elevator and made eye contact with another nurse I knew from my addiction. As we were the only two people on the elevator, he pulled out a vial of an IV drug and asked if I wanted to go get messed up. I had my hesitations, as I wasn’t that addicted, but I eventually caved.

Soon I was stealing and using IV medications at work. Now that my addiction and career had intersected, there was nothing I wasn’t willing to do to get my fix. Drugs controlled every second of every day. I couldn’t go to sleep or wake up without them.  I started picking up extra shifts at work so I could more easily have access to the drugs I craved.

The next thing I knew, someone filed a complaint against me at work for drooling on a patient while I leaned over to check his breathing. I was called into the nurse manager’s office, where I faced all three of my immediate supervisors. I just about manipulated my way out of the situation — until they inspected my arms. They sent me to employee health for a drug test and then had security escort me out of the building. My emotions were mixed; I felt a sense of relief that I no longer had to lead this double life, but I felt fear at the possibility of living my life without drugs.

I managed to get my nursing license back and found a nursing job. This only lasted for about one year. After losing my nursing license a second time, my addiction went back into full swing. I felt shame and guilt over the person I had become. During my addiction, at least two people I knew of died of an overdose. These were people I had introduced to intravenous drugs, even taking the liberty to do it for them the first couple of times.

I broke every one of the 10 commandments and kept thinking, “How could I ever be forgiven for all the suffering I have caused others? How would I ever make things right? One night, I prayed harder and longer than I had ever tried before. I confessed to God all I had done. I asked him to change my heart and use me for his purpose. Feeling broken, I asked Christ into my life that night as I fell asleep. The next morning, I woke up with the strangest sense of peace I had ever felt. The weight of the world had been taken off my shoulders, and I could breathe again.

Matthew 11:28-30 has become very special to me. It reads, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (NIV).

On July 16, 2014, I took my last drink or drug and started attending Celebrate Recovery with a friend from a church I had been visiting. My friend and I immediately signed up for a step study. In that step study, with my sponsor and accountability partners, I worked through my resentments with God. I was able to forgive myself as Christ forgave me. I opened up and shared all the horrible events of my past with my sponsor, and he didn’t judge me. He prayed for me!  Principle 6 states, “Evaluate all my relationships. Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others.”

Today I am a ministry leader of a growing Celebrate Recovery group in my community. Working the principles of Celebrate Recovery is helping restore my life. I have a hope and a peace through Jesus Christ that I never thought possible.

How to Experience Real Freedom

How to Experience Real Freedom, Forever

By Pastor Rick Warren

Freedom

In John 8, Jesus made an incredible, profound statement. He said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. . . . So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free” (John 8:32, 36 NLT).

You’ll be really free. What was he talking about? What does he set me free from?

The Bible says that Jesus wants to set you free in three dimensions.

1. Jesus wants to set you free from the pain of your past.

That’s a good thing. I’ve discovered the number one cause of unhappiness is people who are stuck in the past. They’re holding on to hurts. They can’t relate to the present because they’re still reacting to the past.

I’ve discovered that there are two kinds of things that people have a hard time getting over – resentment and regret. Jesus wants to set you free from both of them.

First, he wants to set you free from the pain of resentment. Everybody has been hurt by other people. You’ve been hurt many, many times. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally.

What you do with that hurt will determine whether you live freely or whether you live in a prison of pain.

He also wants to help you get over the pain of regret. Not only have people hurt you in life, you’ve blown it. You’ve hurt other people.

And as a result of that, because nobody’s perfect and we’ve all made mistakes, we all carry regret.

And guilt is a terrible thing to carry around. It leaves you miserable. It saps your energy. You end up punishing yourself. And you end up playing the if-only game.

“If only I knew then what I know now . . . If only I could just erase the past . . . If only I could turn back the clock . . . If only I could pull that bad mistake back, that stupid decision, I would do it so differently today.”  We live in the prison of regret and guilt.  “I wish I’d listened sooner.”

When we fill our lives with regret, we can’t live with that, so we try to blame other people, we try to pass the buck. But most of the time we just try to bury our guilt, bury our shame, bury our regrets.  We can do it by booze, with pills, or a half dozen other things. Most of the time, people will try to bury it by staying busy. One of the reasons some of us are such workaholics is that we don’t like the way we feel when we’re quiet.

God specializes in new beginnings. God does not want you walking around with a load of guilt. God doesn’t want you to carry around guilt.

That’s why he came up with a plan to relieve it. He sent Jesus Christ to earth to die for all of your sins, all of the selfishness, the the lack of thoughtfulness, the unkindness.

2. Jesus wants to set you free from the pressures of today.

That’s the second dimension of freedom. Do you ever feel like your life is out of control? Do you ever feel like it’s out of balance? Do you ever get tired of just thinking about all the things you’ve got to do? Do you ever wish you could just resign from the human race for just one week so you could do whatever you really wanted to do?

Life is getting more complex and life is speeding up. It is definitely getting faster and it’s certainly isn’t as simple as it used to be. We’ve even come up with a whole new vocabulary of terms to describe our stress and pressures of today’s living.

Sometimes the stress gets so heavy you feel like you’re at a breaking point. You feel like you’re going to go under for the last time.

When you’re under pressure you need two things. You need strength and you need stability. God offers them both to you.

Jesus Christ has all the power you need. The same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead can raise you up from your problems.

If Jesus Christ can raise a dead person, he can raise a dead marriage. He can raise a dead career. He can raise a dead relationship. He can do anything. He’s got all the power you need.

You don’t have enough power to make it. That’s why you’re tired all the time. You need a source stronger than you to make it in life.

3. Jesus wants to set you free from pessimism about tomorrow.

What is it that causes people to lose hope? Why is it that we lose hope so quickly? When you boil it all down there are two reasons why people lose hope.

First, we lose hope when we’re facing a situation that needs to be changed and we can’t change it.

And second, we lose hope and become pessimistic when we don’t know the purpose that God made us for.

The Bible is very clear that everybody on this earth was created for a purpose. The sad thing is, most people go through life never discovering either: (a) a relationship with God, or (b) the purpose he put them on earth for.

Hope is essential for life. You can live 40 days without food, three days without water, and eight minutes without air. But you can’t live one second without hope. The moment you lose hope you’re no longer living, you’re just existing.

When inevitable tough times come into your life, to whom will you turn? Where is your source of hope? Where is your rock?

We are living in a time when change is happening at a greater and greater rate, so fast that nobody in this room could possibly keep up with all the changes going on in the world. In a time when the world is changing rapidly and everything’s up in the air, you need what Alvin Toffler in his book calls “islands of stability.” These islands are the things that never change in your life, some emotional and spiritual anchors that hold you down when everything is flying apart.

God has a gift for you through Jesus Christ. It is freedom, freedom from the pain of your past and the pressures of today – including pessimism, worry, doubt, and fear about tomorrow.

But a gift is worthless if you never receive it. You’ve got to take it. Would you like a fresh start with God? You can have it today!

5 Steps for Handling Life’s Frustrations

5 Steps for Handling Life’s Frustrations

By Pastor Rick Warren

Frustration

Many of our biggest mistakes in life can be traced to handling disappointment in unwise ways. In times when we’re emotionally low, it’s easy to slip back into the habits that wreaked havoc on our lives in the past. Sometimes, we just need better coping mechanisms!

Here are five simple steps for dealing with frustrations in your life, based on the Bible.

1.  Ask yourself, “Did I cause it?”

The Bible says, “A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7 NIV). Many things in life frustrate us because we brought them on ourselves. We don’t have anybody else to blame.

It’s frustrating to run out of gas on a trip. But if you didn’t stop to get gas before you left, or decided to push your luck, who’s to blame?

2.  Ask yourself, “What can I learn from it?”

Use the irritation as an opportunity to grow in character and become more like Christ.

How does God produce the fruit of the Spirit in your life? He places you in the opposite situation. If God wants to teach you love, he will put you around unlovely people. If God wants to teach you peace, he will put you in a situation of total chaos so you can have inner peace.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him . . . ” (NIV). There are many bad things in the world, but all things work together and even the negative God can turn into a positive if we will let him.

3.  Thank God in the situation.

First Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks” (NKJV). You don’t have to be thankful for a bad situation. But you can be thankful in a bad situation. That frustration, that irritation, that inconvenience, that interruption, may be a blessing or an opportunity in disguise.

The apostle Paul wanted to go to Rome to preach, but God took him to Rome to be in prison and write the letters that formed the New Testament. Paul was frustrated, but God saw it as an opportunity to make him sit still long enough to write the Bible.

4.  Turn the frustration into a funny, humorous event.

The Bible says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine”  (Proverbs 17:22 NIV). A sense of humor is God’s antidote for anger and frustration.

5.  Ask God to fill you with his love.

Why? Because 1 Corinthians 13:5 says, [Love] is not easily angered” (NIV).  Love is self-giving, not self-serving. We get irritated because we think everyone and everything has to revolve around us. Love concentrates on the other person.

Jesus faced constant frustrations in his life, but he always made time for people. We get so preoccupied with our own things; we forget that people are the priority in life.

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3 NIV).

Kyle’s CR Story

Saved from the Depths of Addiction: Kyle’s Celebrate Recovery Story

By Celebrate Recovery

Soldiers

I’m a grateful believer in Jesus Christ. In the past, I struggled with drugs and alcohol, and today, I struggle with control. My name is Kyle.

I can trace my descent into the depths of addiction and my rebirth from it to two separate days, two moments in time.

It was Memorial Day 2007 when everything began to unravel. I was serving with the US Army in southern Baghdad on the tail end of a 16-hour mission. Some kids were playing ball by our vehicle, so I got out and kicked their ball over a few streets to move them along. Back in the Humvee, I’m speaking to the guy next to me when I hear a thud. Before that moment, smoking weed, drinking heavily, experimenting with drugs, essentially distancing myself from God – I planted seeds that now came to bear.

After several surgeries, which saved my life, I flew back to the States. While I was unable to move, and stuck in a hospital, my wife of one month was completely taking care of me. Already feeling like I was failing my guys, I received the news that set me over the edge: My entire squad was killed in a Humvee accident. The survivor’s guilt was crippling.

The army had prescribed me pain medication, and the only way I could get any peace of mind was to wash it down with whiskey. When I returned to West Monroe after the army med-boarded me, I was jaded, cynical, and completely dependent on drugs. I was miserable to be around, and the three 80mg OxyContin a day prescribed to me no longer worked. This forced me to take matters further. After giving me many warnings about my behavior, my wife finally moved out. This left me with nothing – no money, no home, no family – just an IV drug addiction.

In despair, I went to treatment. I had been multiple times in the past, but I never completed it. This was just a tool to get people off my back, and this time would be no different. I left after 11 days. I found myself needing a place to stay while I waited on my check, which I was planning to use to buy drugs. I showed up at my parents’ house with a sob story. My dad told me I was at a turning point and I needed to turn to Jesus for help. He prayed with me. Overwhelmed with a loving conviction, I cried out to God for help.

I always wanted something different for my life, but I woke up the next morning finally willing to act. I told the truth about what happened, and I headed out looking for an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting. Despite my efforts and I like to believe by providence, I couldn’t find one. I headed home, discouraged, when I remembered some sort of house by White’s Ferry Road Church where recovering addicts lived. I pulled into the parking lot, but it was no longer there. I gathered my courage and walked into the church, which is where I was introduced to Mike C. I broke down and confessed everything to him. After baring my soul, he simply looked at me and said, “Me, too.”

After speaking with my family, I gave Mike my car keys and had him give my money to my wife. He admitted me into the Awaken514 recovery homes, and I asked to stay in the strictest one. He obliged.

I only planned on staying a month, but as time progressed, I discovered more and more heart issues I needed to work on. Instead of my trying to control the world around me, God transformed me from the inside out. I discovered that humility was an action word. I stopped relying on the things I thought I knew. I learned I couldn’t keep it unless I gave it away. I realized my purpose was to give Christ the glory. In return, Christ gave me more than I deserved. I was steadily gaining back the trust of my family and, after nine months, given the chance to move in with my wife and kids.

After leaving the recovery house, I wanted to continue watching God transform lives in those houses. Where Christ is present, there is freedom. So I went back to the house every chance I had. I basically did everything but sleep there. One day, Mike came to me and said that Josh and he wanted to take me to lunch. I was afraid they were going to ask me to stop coming to the house, but to my surprise they offered me a job. I asked if I could help out until they were ready to hire me, and I shadowed Mike around the office for about a month without pay. One day, Mike’s wife asked me if I had any money. When I said no, she asked Josh to pay me. That’s how I was hired by Awaken514.

I always wondered why I went through what I did, but now I see my trials through the eyes of a loving God. All the pain and heartache comprise cultivation for a greater purpose. I accept hardship as a pathway to peace. I take the world as God wills it. Only through surrender will I be happy in this life and the next. I strive to remain humble, being grateful for Christ’s unconditional love. I’m not saying I have this figured out, but God is calling me forward. By reaching out to meet Christ’s guiding hand, I am well on my way.

How to Love Your Kids Unconditionally

Parent and Child

One of the most important things we can do for our children is to teach them that God loves them unconditionally.

It’s extremely important that we teach our kids that they are loved, not because they earned our love or are good enough to be loved, but that they’re loved because God put them into our families to be loved.

This is hard for many of us because we have had a hard time receiving God’s unconditional love ourselves. God wants us to spend some time with him, letting him love us, and in turn giving that unconditional love to our kids.

How can we show God’s unconditional love to our families? Here are two practical ways:

1. Forgive your kids as God forgives you.

Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ” (NCV).

I love that God forgives me, but I’m not always ready to give that same kind of forgiveness to other people. Parenting requires massive doses of forgiveness. You’re in a position all the time to forgive your kids for things that they do.

2. Never give up on your kids.

We’re told in 1 Corinthians 13:7a, “If you love someone . . . you will always believe in him, and always expect the best of him” (TLB).

From the Phillips translation, that same verse says, “Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything.”

We can face just about anything if we know somebody believes in us. Families are supposed to do that. We’re to give that kind of love to our kids.

Nothing can separate us from the love of God. It’s unconditional. It’s a forever bond. No stupid mistake on our part, no dumb decision, no period of rebellion, no overwhelming doubt — nothing can separate us from that forever bond with God, our Father.

As parents we are to develop that same kind of love for our kids. No matter what stupid thing our kids do, no matter how many times they walk away, we believe in them.

God wants you to treat your kids the way he treats you.

Parenting is an emotional roller coaster. One minute you’re so proud of them, you can hardly wait to squeeze them. The next minute you’re frustrated with them and fed up with their behavior.

You may be worried about your kids. You may be frustrated with your kids. You may be fearful about the direction one of them is going. You may be discouraged. If the truth were known, you may be disappointed in one or more of your kids.

Maybe the deepest hurt in your life is when you think of your child or your children. You feel like giving up sometimes, but you can’t resign as a parent. You signed on for life.

If you try to parent in your own power, you’re going to fail. It takes God’s love. Human love runs out. There is a limit to how much you can handle. There’s a limit to how much you can take.

There are days and there are nights when you don’t have any more to give, and you know it. You want to say, “Take care of yourself!” Because human love does run out.

What you need to do is get plugged into God. God is love. He’s the source of all love. When you’re plugged into him, he’ll give you power and energy and love that you didn’t know you had.

God will also give you the wisdom you need. So no matter how you feel emotionally about your kids today, Jesus is ready to help.

The key to becoming a great parent is to become a godly person. How?

First, you invite Jesus Christ into your life. “Lord, become the manager of my heart.”

Second, you pray and say, “God, I need your help daily. I need the wisdom and the love and the patience to be a wise parent.”

Third, you ask your kids to pray for you. I pray for my kids so I ask them to pray for me. Say, “I want you to pray that I’ll be a good parent.”

It may have to start with an apology. There may have to be a little reconciliation first. You may have to contact them, call them on the phone and say, “I wasn’t always the parent I should have been. I feel bad about that. But I want things to change. I want to be the kind of parent God wants me to be and that you need, so I’m going to ask you to forgive me. I apologize.”

It’s never too late to start showing God’s unconditional love and forgiveness to your kids. God never gives up on us. So never given up on your kids!