Do Not Run Ahead

One of my biggest faults is running ahead of God. There are more times than I care to tick off that I have made a mad dash to get out ahead of Him.

Just recently in one of those ah-ha moments I came to realize just why I do that. Understanding how our family of origin operates can unlock many secrets to our behavior and this was one of them.

Knowing you have the problem of running ahead of God and not running ahead of God are two different things. But I can assure you He is working on that in me. Just minutes after my last post of Freedom in Saying No – Part 4 my cell phone rang. It was my son telling me he had been kicked out of a Rehab and I needed to come get him right now.

A still small voice was telling me…

This is a test…

Would I pass or would I fail, would I cave already?

Is this helping or am I about to enable again?

I took a deep breath and decided this would be enabling and I needed to let him go, to let him struggle this one out. I couldn’t say for sure what God was doing, but I knew He was and there would be no running ahead of him this time.

I said No as firmly as I could.

God in His infinite wisdom provided a Christian woman who sort of knew my son to offer him a ride and on that ride he heard about his need to repent, to turn from sin and that more than anything he needed Jesus. Now he’s heard that from me over and over, but this would be from a new voice, a voice that God had ordained for just this moment.

Just a few days later my son would try to get back into a Rehab… For the first time all the helps that had been out there, the doors would be closed. No over nights at the hospital until a bed was ready. In absolute fear of being homeless he called me begging me to come pick him up.

Once again I heard the still small voice in my head …

This is a test…

No more enabling for me, no more running ahead of what God has in mind. I reminded myself that God is good, He is always good.

Because I said No… and he had run out of all other options he went through his phone list and found the number of one of the Elders from our church and asked for help. Right now he is the car of with him, again hearing a new voice, a God ordained voice. A voice I am sure God planned to use long before today.

Today not only did I refuse to enable, I refuse to run ahead of God.

Philippians 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Freedom in Saying No (Part 4)

The road to freedom of any kind is paved with a lot of battles, bumps, potholes, and roadblocks.

The journey I have been on has been no different. My friend’s insistence to read the book, and then the book itself only set me on the road. It has taken determination, falling, failure and utter resolve to keep moving down this road of Freedom.

Just like Allison’s ah-ha moment that I described in my last post, I’ve had a few that have pushed me further down the road. The first was last August, when I came home after being out of town for 4 days at a conference and my husband’s schedule had been pretty busy as well, leaving our son home a lot (which should be fine considering he’s 23) to find that all hell had broken loose in our home.

My son had overdosed and was found unresponsive, he was rushed to the hospital, given a medication that counter acts the drug he had taken and within 5 hours walked out of there refusing any other help… add to that finding out that he had lied about his girlfriend expecting a baby just to gain our sympathy and financial support. The heart sickness I felt was overwhelming, and the light finally dawning on Marble-head (mine) that he had NO desire to change or get well was enlightening. The only person seeming to fight for him to be well was me…I wanted him to change, I wanted him to be well…

This would be my first “AH-HA moment” that began the process of saying NO.

“NO you cannot live here; you have refused to go to a rehab after nearly dying.”

“NO you cannot stay here; you lied to us for the last three months so we would support the two of you.


The chaos that ensued after that brought a call to the police to have him removed. Remember I said when you start this process, it will get ugly. You must be prepared for that.

The next few months brought a peace to our home, a peace that I had not known for nearly 6 years. I had no clue how to live in it. My new found freedom was unfamiliar territory. During that time I would cave here and there in helping him (if I am to be truthful it was more enabling, he just wasn’t in our home)

It would be Thanksgiving before he ever walked back through our doors. ~ And nothing says battles, bumps, potholes and roadblocks like the emotions of the holidays and the frigid weather they bring. This would be where the rubber would meet the road in putting all that Allison’s book had to say to work. I’m not telling you to cut your child out emotionally, but I am telling you, you will have to NOT act because of those emotions.

I did…

again I would have to say… “My name is Susan and I’m an enabler.”

In my post Peace in the Silence, I shared the utter despair of our family as my son walked out with $2500 worth of electronics; a good portion of these were Christmas gifts, this last episode would push me to new place, recognizing the depth of his addiction and illness, seeing my part in all of this, my undying hope that one day he will emerge a healed, whole young man due in part to my gallant efforts to give him another opportunity to succeed.


I cannot fix him, no matter how much love I pour on him,or how many times I help him…

The word STOP screamed in my heart.

I had to break free of this once and for all.

Finally saying NO, drawing a line in the concrete (no longer in the sand) will be the only way I can be of any true help. And if I truly want to see him healed and whole, it WILL never be about what I do. It will be about what God will do. Yielding everything to God (Y), giving my son up to Him, and NOT taking him back to fix, trusting that God has the plan all in place, I just need to get out of the way and let it happen. This one letter of the Acronym will be the most important one to implement, once you do…

The FREEDOM will come…

The road has smoothed out,

the battles, bumps, potholes and roadblocks are no longer visible. They’re not visible because they are not mine to endure. They are his…

If I can give you anything to hold onto, anything to take away from all of this… it’s this;
The Road to Freedom begins by saying NO! And each time you say NO, mean it, stick with it, If you cave, start all over again and eventually you won’t go back. The road will smooth out and the Freedom will be incredible.
My friend; there is Freedom in Saying No.

Freedom in Saying No (Part 3)

Being able to see myself as an enabler was a huge step, and a painful one. Answering those 20 questions from Allison Bottke’s book “Setting Boundaries with your Adult Children” had to be one of the most difficult things I have ever done. It took every ounce of strength I had to be honest with myself and see just what kind of mess I was dealing with and what part I had played in it.

As I continued on in the book I thankfully found that Allison gave us the way out! It’s only the first step to admit you’re an enabler, that was hard in and of itself, but to…


… as much as I wanted too, I had no idea how to.

Her Simple Acronym SANITY gave me 6 action steps to take to STOP the enabling.

• S = STOP, your negative behavior; enabling, blaming, and STOP the flow of money
• A = Assemble a Support group
• N = Nip excuses in the bud
• I = Implement Rules and boundaries
• T = Trust your instincts
• Y = Yield everything to God.

The S in Sanity would be the hardest to tackle. When you set a norm and start going against it to set a new one, it more than rocks the boat. And I will tell you when I began this process it got ugly. Saying NO when your asked for money for things you always caved in for in the past, you best be ready to implement the N and the I and laden it with the Y, and be sure you have A ready to call when you have.

What I’m saying here is this an all or nothing process. You can’t just Assemble a Support group and not take the plunge to Nip excuses in the bud (his as wells as yours). Or Implement Boundaries and not STOP enabling.

I wish I could say that after reading this I instantly began saying NO and sticking with it. I’d be lying to you and to myself if I even tried to breathe that as truth. What I can tell you is I already had A in place. I have an amazing husband who has loved me in-spite of being an enabler who has stuck by me in it all and through it all,and a group of girlfriends that had my back, that held me accountable, that cried with me, laughed with me and had no problem asking me the hard questions (or handing me a book to read that I needed more than them at the time).

And I had Y in place. I had a strong walk with my God, and I had been lifting my son up to him for quite some time. (Problem was I kept taking him back to fix myself.)

I slowing started saying NO, each time it got a little easier, less scary. It would be three months into this process when I had to firmly and with all the tough love I possessed to tell my son He could no longer live with us. That was August 2010, which is when I wrote “Letting Go of the Prodigal”. Over the next six months I got good at saying NO (S), staying accountable to my friends (A), not listening to his excuses when he’d call and start telling me why he couldn’t do something. (N) putting firm Boundaries in place, (I), I knew in my heart I was moving in the right direction (T) and my walk with God seemed better than ever (Y).

So why did it take two more times of letting him in and watching him fail miserably to finally (oh I hope it’s finally) to draw a line in the concrete? I went back and re-read some of Allison’s book, and in Chapter 8 she tells the story of her son’s court case, and how it got back to her that her son felt she sat there and cried just to be the center of attention. It was like a lightning bolt hit her, how little he cared about her and her feelings. That all that she had done out of a mothers heart truly meant nothing to him.

She state’s:

“Clearly my son was unaware of the depth of my pain and therefore the depth of my love for him. All the years I had come to his rescue out of love for him-out of a desire to keep him safe, to help during his trials and tribulations- all for naught. He didn’t get it. He never got it. Not only didn’t he get it, he didn’t appreciate it, Not only didn’t he appreciate it, but I suddenly realized with crystal clarity that instead of helping him, my actions had hindered him.”

Tomorrow I will end this series of post with my own Ah-ha moment and how I have gained my Freedom in Saying NO.

Freedom in Saying No (Part 2)

I can still clearly remember the night that Allison Bottke’s book was handed to me by a dear friend. The sting of her words sunk into my heart

“I bought this book for me, but I think you need it more than I do right

If she hadn’t been a trusted and dear friend I may have taken that as an insult, but I knew her heart and her struggle with her own wayward son, so I took the book home and tentatively opened it and I was met with a list of 20 questions that stopped me dead in my tracks.

I have copied the two pages from her book that encompass these questions and I will bravely post my answers:

1. Have you repeatedly loaned your adult child money, which seldom, if ever, has been repaid? (‘You had me at hello’ but I had to finish the list of questions)
2. Have you paid for education and/or job training in more than one field? (Yes)
3. Have you finished a job or project that he/she failed to complete himself because it was easier than arguing with him? (Yes)
4. Have you paid bills he was supposed to have paid himself? (yes)
5. Have you accepted part of the blame for his addictions or behavior? (yes)
6. Have you avoided talking about negative issues because you feared his response? (No, I had no problem confronting, I had a problem drawing the line in the sand, later that line would become concrete)
7. Have you bailed him out of jail or paid for his legal fees? (UGH yes and more than once)
8. Have you given him “one more chance” and then another, and another? (yes, yes and yes)
9. Have you wondered how he gets money to buy cigarettes, video games, new clothes, and such but can’t afford to pay his own bills? (No, I knew the answer to this one)
10. Have you ever returned home, at lunchtime (or called) and found him still in bed sleeping? (Yes)
11. Have you ever ‘called in sick’ for your child, lying about his symptoms to his boss? (No)
12. Have you threatened to throw him out but didn’t? (Yes, see the answer to #8)
13. Have you begun to feel you’ve reached the end of your rope? (Yes and was holding on for dear life)
14. Have you begun to hate your child and yourself for the state in which you live? (yes and it was causing me to slip into a depression)

15. Have you begun to worry that the financial burden is more then you can bear? (yes, and it was hurting our whole family)
16. Have you begun to feel that your marriage is in jeopardy because of this situation? (yes, I often asked my husband how he kept staying… he took the brunt of my son’s attacks)
17. Have you noticed growing resentment in other family members because of your adult child? (yes, it had caused numerous family problems with extended family and as gracious as my daughters are, they too were at the end of their rope in dealing with him)
18. Have you noticed others are uncomfortable around you when this issue arises? (Yes and No)
19. Have you noticed an increase in profanity, violence, and /or other unacceptable behavior from your adult child? (yes, and it was bringing out the same in me)
20. Have you noticed that things are missing from your home, including money, valuables, and other personal property. (YES, and the total of this is astounding)

“If you answered yes to most or all of these questions you have not only been an enabler, but you have probably become a major contributor to the problem.”

“It’s time to stop”

The night I read that list for the first time, I can remember feeling a wave of nausea come over me. The final words on that page “Its time to stop” Hit me like a ton of bricks. I was deeply taken aback at how much of an enabler I was. It was as if Allison had written her book just for me, it so spoke to my life and what I had allowed myself to be apart of. It wasn’t until I got real with myself and could see what I was doing to him and to me that I could begin the road to freedom. I cried out to God to help me turn those 17 yes’s into No’s.

In Part 3 we’ll go over the Steps to SANITY ~ the ‘How To’ in gaining Freedom.

Freedom in Saying ‘No’ (Part 1)

I have had long standing issues with being an enabler. I had been an enabler in a past relationship, to the point of living in an emotionally abusive state. It was always easier to push life under the rug then to confront it. One day I did find my voice and said ‘NO’. No more pushing it under the rug, no more making pretend that all was ok. That relationship ended.

It must have set precedence in my subconscious that saying No means a relationship will end. Because although I stood firm in that relationship, and didn’t go back to enabling that person, my enabling just took on a new life in another relationship.

For too long I enabled my son, although I didn’t hand him drugs, I certainly caved to his requests over and over again. To which I am ashamed that I aided his addiction, by supplying him with money that didn’t go for his voiced intended need, like new sneakers or money to go to the movies… instead it would go to feed his habit.

I guess I could claim I was naïve…

But being naïve can only last so long.

Hindsight is always our best teacher, when we can see with clear lenses, looking back at our behavior and see how we acted, how we interacted, how we folded when we should have stood firm and learn from it.
It took me a number of years of counseling and insight into my past to see just why saying ‘No’ was so hard for me. And coming to the place where I was able to say…

My name is Susan and I’m an enabler…

It was this past summer when I began reading ‘Setting Boundaries With Your Adult Children’ by Allison Bottke

that I was finally able to say that. In the very first chapter it states…

“Many of us parents in pain dream about seeing our adult children live as independent, functional adult children instead of the dependent, dysfunctional adult children they have become. ..
The first step is for us to accept any part we have played in making our adult children who-and what- they have become. We also need a better understanding of the differences between helping and enabling and the wisdom and willingness to make the necessary changes in our own lives when at last we truly recognize the difference…”

It was in reading her book that I saw just how enabling I was and that there could be freedom in saying NO.

Tomorrow I’ll share the questions from her book that began my journey to The Freedom in Saying No.

To Err of the Side of Grace

We all know the words to the infamous song “Amazing Grace” ~

♫ Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me… ♫

When the word GRACE is about us we sing it boldly and with tears streaming down our face, so thrilled that God would pour His grace down on us. Grace is God’s unmerited favor. That is, grace is God doing good for us that which we do not deserve.

And if you’re anything like me you’ve received God’s grace numerous times.

Many times we have drank in His grace, until we feel full of its rich blessing. Our hearts satisfied with its undeserved sweetness. What a gift His grace is to a weary believer, especially when I’m that weary one. It’s so good when it’s about me.

But what about when it’s about you?
Grace isn’t just about me receiving it, it’s also about me giving it out, extending it to another when they don’t deserve it. That same application of grace to me is extended to you, from me, through Him.

But …

What if I’m right about their sin?

What if they don’t come to the table and work through the conflict?

What if I’m left holding the bag of hurt, disappointment and angst?

There is a list of what if’s… and there is always grace.

Grace extends forgiveness when I want to hold on to my hurt.
Grace gives out love instead of submerging deeper in the conflict.
Grace covers sin, mine and yours.

To err on the side of grace means that I am willing to put aside my ‘right’ to be right and offer to you what Christ offers to me. Grace; sweet, satisfying grace. Do I want to be known as the Women who errs on the side of Grace? Or as the women who holds a grudge? I’ll go with Grace!

Eph 4: 29 – 32
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

When the Phone Rings

It was Friday evening and the phone rang,

my beloved answered it thinking it was my daughter that lives in Plymouth, he answered it with a light sound in his voice, but in just a moment the sound of his voice changed as he handed me the phone and said “its him”.
In an instant a heavy weight was lifted off my shoulders. That’s the only way I can explain it. That moment that comes when your greatest fear has been put to rest and you can breathe easy…

I just called to tell you I’m back in a rehab


“I’m in High Point, just got here today”


That’s all I could handle at that point. I breathed a huge sigh of relief knowing he was alive and in recovery. I didn’t want to know anymore… not yet. Part of me wanted to ask “WHY”… but the other part of me wasn’t ready to hear it or for that matter to continue talking to him, I was still angry.
“I’ll call you tomorrow”

you don’t have to call me every day, you can call me when you’re going to make the next step, just work on you”

I slept easy that night for the first time in days.

It would be three more days till I heard from him again. By then I had the guts to ask…

What happened”?

“I just lost control, I couldn’t take it anymore. The need for drugs was bigger than my need to be at home. I knew…right after I did it I would never be able to go home again. That’s why I couldn’t pick up the phone when you called. I couldn’t talk to anyone. I felt so bad”.

He spent the last two weeks on a drug binge that would come crashing down around him, the thought of withdrawal without the help of a rehab was so scary he brought himself to the hospital. This was the first time he would do this all on his own. Each time in the past I would get the call to bring him. This time he manned up and got himself there.

For the first time in years I’m sensing an ownership of all this in my son that has never been there before.

God I know you have given me the strength in this past hardship to completely let go of him. I know he is firmly in your hand.

John 10:28b ~…no one can snatch them out of My hand.

Peace in the Silence

This is day 11 of the silence. A Silence brought on by guilt, shame and addiction.

On January 18th my beloved husband and I did what we thought we would never do again, due to the horrific cold and snow we allowed our son to come back home. Since the beginning of January he had been in and out of our home, spending a night here an afternoon there. Each visit was positive.

On that Monday afternoon he had called asking;

“Please can I come home, the place where I’m staying is not good. It’s filled with drug and alcohol use and I don’t want to get caught up in this”

My beloved and I talked and we thought we would do this one more time, give him the opportunity to succeed. And deal with it if he failed. Going into it with our eyes wide open, hoping against hope that this would be the time he would overcome.

I called my son and said

“You may come to the house, but this is not forever, you will need to start moving forward with your life and there are boundaries…”

And the short list of boundaries was given, the same ones he’s always crossed, walked over, stomped on. Oh how I had hoped that the 6 months of living in Rehabs, Sober houses, and friends couches had brought on a new appreciation for those boundaries. That being essentially homeless and apart from his family would have put a desire in his heart to change.

Luke 15: 13: – 20 says…

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

My hopes were that my son had the same repentant heart of the prodigal, that after months of wandering, being able to come home would be such a gift to his heart that it would cause him to rejoice, to find a new beginning. That first Sunday at church he sat through the sermon, crying off and on. I kept praying for him as I knew God must be doing a work on his heart. Those first few days with him at home were so good. He was a help, and he expressed constant thanks, one night at dinner he offered to say grace, his heart honest prayer brought tears to each of our eyes as he thanked God not only for the food, but for the opportunity to be home with his family, he choked up as he prayed.

Yes God, just maybe this is it…he’s going to make it.

Not 24 hours later when my beloved and my little man walked through the door at the end of the day, not only was my son gone, but a number of our belongings as well. Nearly $2,500.00 of electronics.

I immediately tried to call him… no answer; he wouldn’t pick up his phone.

It would be four days before we heard from him, a text coming in to tell us just how sorry he was, that he was nothing more than a drug addict loser. When we pushed him to ask where he was and WHY… the texts ended.

A few days later as I checked his phone use online, his phone use stopped abruptly.

Nothing… no incoming calls, no outgoing calls.

Now for my son that is just out of character, his normal phone use is a call every 3 minutes. I began to worry, really worry. Was he dead… had he been arrested, was he back in a rehab… had he sold his phone too? So many scenarios have gone through my head.

The silence has been deafening to my heart. I am learning to moment by moment place him in my God’s hands. This is a journey that is between him and God. Whatever suffering he is going through God will use, God will not let him go. My heart knows that God will either turn his life around and bring glory to His name, or He will bring him home… and not my home, but to the eternal home where my son will never again face addiction.

I’m at peace in this silence.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.