“How GOD Fixes Broken People” My Vietnam Vet’s Struggle With Alcoholism

My story…..is tightly woven into my love story. What a man…what a GOD…and oh what a story of FORGIVENESS.  I am recycling an old post to link up with the precious Suzie Eller for #livefree Thursday.

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The year was 1968.

He was barely 19 by just a few days when he received his mandatory invitation from Uncle Sam.

Life was simple….. but he was far from a simple boy.

Talent, smarts and personality oozed from every pore of his body.

Required to report within 21 days, he left his boyhood behind.

After 12 months of combat training he stepped off the plane in Chu Lai, Vietnam.

All he could see on the tarmac were thousands of body bags laying side by side for three lengths of a football field.

Fear struck his heart….

He told himself he would never make it home.

His boots hit the jungle ground running.

His daily goal was just to survive to see the sun rise.

He once went 3 weeks without taking his boots off.

When I asked why?

He said you didn’t want to get caught with your boots off.

When he finally removed them ….the medic had to strip the socks from his skin.

The nights were sleepless.

The smells were endless.

The noise was miserably deafening.

The sights were horribly unforgettable.

The emotional and physical stress took its toil….

He had his first taste of liquor to cope.

One by one he watched his friends die.

He was one of the lucky three that survived his squad.

The tactical missions occupied his mind…..

Shifting his focus from the prospect of death.

Once after an intense night of battle….

He carried a dead GI on his back until he met up with the medi-vac helicopter.

You never forget that kind of weight….he says….

It’s a weight that lays heavy in the mind….

It’s a weight you still feel 44 years later.

Every 3 weeks his squad would go to the rear, aka command base, for a precious 3 day rest from death and destruction….

That’s where he learned to drink in order to numb the stress.

He tells stories of GI’S who shot themselves in the leg or got food poisoning on purpose…

He laughs about one soldier who actually tried to fake being crazy…..

These were the ones who would suffer being a coward rather than face the alternative.

The gruesome images he saw….are still prominent in his memories.

The desperation of surviving affected him in ways he could never imagine.

There are times he is still in survival mode even today.

The shock of all his senses engrossed in the worst horror story you can imagine….

Is who he is….at the most unexpected recollection.

He was wounded…

They patched him up and sent him back to the jungle a few months later.

Again….he fought to live….

Day in and day out…

Fighting for a people who for the most part….

Didn’t appreciate the effort…

Or the sacrifices.

He managed to survive….

He managed to come home….

But he wasn’t the same simple boy who left at the tender age of 19.

He came home and turned to alcohol more and more.

He worked hard and long hours during the day…..

He partied hard and long hours into the night…..

Every hour of productivity or leisure was occupied with anything to ease the memories.

I met him in 1985.

I didn’t know it then….but he was still broken from the war…. 15 years later.

He was a functioning alcoholic.

A good one too.

He was the life of the party….

But after we married…

The party was getting old to me….

Especially after the first baby came on the scene.

I just wanted to be normal….

But he couldn’t give me normal because he was carrying the weight of an unresolved emotional trauma.

Statistics cite severe drug and alcohol problems for 60-80% of Vietnam veterans.

Divorce rates hover around 90 percent.

Somewhere around 58,000 Vietnam vets died in combat….

Over 150,000 have committed suicide since the war ended.

Over 500,000 have been arrested or incarcerated.

It is estimated that approximately 100,000 are in prison and over 200,000 are on parole.

These 800,000 men will never get back what they lost.

They will never know normal….

At least in the way it was before it was taken from them.

My veteran gave up so much promise….

So much hope….

So many dreams that have never been reborn.

He lived with years of pain….

Years of functioning dysfunction….

Years of guilt.

Until it all caught up with him….

And the self-destructible behavior cost him everything.

You see that’s what happens when we can’t cope with the pain….

The guilt….

The mistakes….

The horror of the past….

Man self -destructs.

Interceding prayers made the difference in my vets life.

There were numerous….a too many to mention, faithful prayer warriors…..who prayed for him.

Then one day….

When he could bear the burden no longer….

He surrendered to JESUS.

When the bible talks about a new creation being born at salvation…..

My vet instantly became a new creation.

What rehab couldn’t do….

JESUS did….

What an undying love from a faithful young bride couldn’t do…..

JESUS did….

Nothing the world could offer helped him in anyway….

But JESUS did.

Immediately his countenance was different.

Immediately his heart was light…

His smile was bright….

His soul was at peace.

I will never forget the conversation we had a few years back…..

He talked about how the LORD had removed all the guilt of what he had to do to survive the hell hole of Vietnam.

“All that guilt…and worry….the faces I used to dream about…it’s all gone, GOD took all that from me when he saved me, I am FORGIVEN,” he said.

GOD also took his desire for alcohol away.

He has been sober for 23 years.

What GOD has done in his life is nothing short of a miracle.

He is far from a perfect man…..

But he lives a spirit filled life of joy….

Peace….

Hope…..

Freedom….

He has health issues due to his service…

But he has JESUS….

And though life is hard at times….

And never reaches a perfect place……

JESUS helps us endure….

JESUS keeps us going…..

JESUS helps us live daily with love, laughter and vision for the future.

And now JESUS uses my vet for HIS kingdom….

He teaches Sunday school….

He witnesses and helps others struggling with alcohol….

He goes and prays with those who need a touch from JESUS….

He has led several in the sinner’s prayer.

You see…….

GOD doesn’t throw people away….

Because GOD never uses perfect people.

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No matter what emotional trauma you have suffered….

No matter what addiction or stronghold in your life…..

No matter if divorce happens…..

No matter the mistakes you’ve made with life changing repercussions…..

It just doesn’t matter to JESUS

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When you are HIS….

You are a new creation…..

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; The old has gone, the new is here!            2 Corinthians 5:17

GOD wants to use you…

And your brokenness….

This past summer I heard a quote at a Proverbs 31 Women’s event and it gave me such hope….

“The thing that we think disqualifies us for GOD’S use…is the very thing GOD wants to use.”

Won’t you surrender to JESUS today and you can be FORGIVEN too?

If you have never accepted JESUS as your savior….there is no better day than today to become a new creation!  Please follow this link …..It’s so easy to come to JESUS!

“When The World Beats You Up”

Today has been one of those messy days of grace for me.

My mindset has been fractured all day….. cracks were exposed in places of faith I previously thought were strong.

My emotions were fragile just enough to let me drift off to the abyss of pessimism.

Hindering oppressive thoughts drained into my soul….taking me back to long ago when I felt no grace.

I thought I was beyond the point of wandering back to the valley.

Somehow I stumbled right into a thicket of obscure dejection. I let man’s actions make me think I was less….unimportant….invisible.

Funny how the enemy knows what days the physical body ails….making it hard for the spiritual consciousness to keep up.

Today I felt as though I was a middle school girl being bullied all over again….bullied by life….bullied by another’s sin.

I am a child of the King…… why do I let the world hamstring my heart at times?
I know better!

How can we be on the spiritual mountain top for months only to be pushed off by the enemy in one short span of time?

There is shame in this weakness for me.

After all…I thought I had passed the faith test….bought the t-shirt…..walking bow legged from so much truth poured into my soul.

How did I let this happen?

I turned off the light way earlier than usual to sleep this melancholy hangover off. Tossing and turning side to side…. trying to get comfortable in my slumber.

I started to pray…..wrestling with words…as well as my comfort…..but I couldn’t find physical comfort…for my spirit was in battle.

Then I clearly hear HIM say…..

“Work it out in words child….tell me exactly what haunts your heart tonight.”

So I turn on the lamp…I reach for my lab top…and tell HIM just what a rotten day I had.

I tell HIM I am mad at myself for listening to the enemy’s lies.

I tell HIM I’m sorry I didn’t filter my mind….I didn’t fall back on the truth.

I tell HIM the pain I feel by hurtful actions and attitudes.

Immediately….I start to feel peace…slowly soaking up the bitter spew of GOD-less thoughts.

I literally can feel strength seeping back into my aching frame.

Truth is pulsating through my spiritual veins again!

I am an overcomer!

Regardless of what emotional lava that has spread over my mind today.

No matter what suppression man may fling my way….

No matter the landmines of doubt the enemy made no attempt to disguise….

HE has reminded me…..

“Greater is HE that is in me….than he that is in the world!”

The Living GOD is in me!

THE LIVING GOD IS IN ME!

And HE will fight my battles!

And soothe my wounds!

The Living God will go before me in all my steps….and tomorrow?

Well tomorrow will be another day…a new day….to take my stand in the truth of HIS faithful righteousness.

A new day to be “HIS” love…..even when I am unloved.

A new day to experience his mercies….for they are new every day.

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.” Lamentations 3:22

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Don’t let the world consume and beat you up my friend….

Don’t let the enemy exploit the fragile places of your heart.

Remember who you are….and whose you are!

For you are a child of the one true King…..JESUS CHRIST!

And you are an OVERCOMER!

Press on OVERCOMER!

Press on!

“Getting Past Life’s Mistakes”

Do you ever wish there were “do overs” in life?

Like the stupid decisions that led to shame…or pain…or loss?

Or the lost opportunities we couldn’t see the value in when we had the chance to be something different….do something important?

How about the conversations or remarks you wish you could take back?

And the regrets of ungodly actions?

The older I get….the more I think about the “do overs” I wish I had.

If only we had the wisdom and discipline to make all the right choices….our lives would go a lot smoother for sure.

But there is hope….

Even when we make the wrong decision….GOD is there…..

If we trust him.

In Lysa Terkehurst’s new book “The Best Yes,” she shares we can’t let our mistakes make us think our life is ruined or forever soiled.

Lysa says…..

“An error is an unintentional mistake; an end is a termination. When considering the potential outcome of a difficult decision, its important to distinguish the errors from the ends in our thinking.”

 

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Even when we mess up…it’s not an end….it’s a mistake we did not intend to happen.

We CAN recover from poor decisions…if we let GOD have control of the situation.

Yes we may have to face some uncomfortable consequences but GOD doesn’t mark us off as disappointments.

In fact …. here is the kicker…..my favorite quote of the whole book……

“My imperfections will never override GOD’S promises. GOD’S promises are not dependent on my ability to always choose well, but rather on HIS ability to use well.”

I don’t know about you…..but this truth just pierces me deep down and makes me want to cry like a baby.

What comfort it is to know my mess ups will never disqualify me from….

HIS love….

HIS mercy…..

HIS kingdom purposes….

or….

HIS ultimate will for my life.

There is so much anointed wisdom from this new book….and I want to leave you with one more quote from Lysa to think about…….

It’s not the activities or accomplishments we string together that make lives well lived as much as it is the hearts of wisdom we gain and use along the way.”

We are going to mess up on this winding….rocky path of life, but if we will let the mess ups (errors)…teach us wisdom ……we will learn to make wiser decisions in the future.

Friend if you are mourning a poor decision and your stuck in the mire of consequences……

Don’t get discouraged……

Don’t hang your head in shame……

Don’t think your life is in a dead end……

Remember…..you are in the redeeming process…..

And what GOD redeems……

HE always uses for HIS GLORY!

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“We have to slow the rhythm of rush in our lives so the best of who we are can emerge. What has “rushing” stolen from you?”

Taken from Chapter 2: The Way of the Best Yes

http://thebestyes.com/

“When Life Brings Unexpected Change”

Nothing stays the same.

Everything changes in this vacuum of time called life.

The babies grow up, the loved one passes away, the job ends, the divorce becomes final,  the friends come and go.

Resistance is the human reaction we all grapple with.

The seasons of life can bring great joy as well as great pain.

The good changes are easier to deal with, the scary changes with consequences not so easy.

With every change the uncertainty of life as we know it becomes a distance memory and if we’re not careful…..it can cloud or stall our future…..but be cautious because our faith is our future.

Don’t get stuck living in the past…….it can be a miserable place to exist …I know….I’ve wasted too much time living in the past.

GOD allows change for good….even though we don’t like how it comes sometimes.

We may face life events that seem catastrophic or heartbreaking….but if we are abiding in JESUS….HE will work it all for our good.

The fact that HE allows change….regardless of how it comes….. shows HE doesn’t want us to stay as we are….HE knows change can bring us closer to HIM if we will let it.

Its when we resist HIS change that we stumble and stray….getting lost in the foggy circumstances.

We can choose to stay the way we are….. where we are at……or we can embrace the change….and become more.

More like HIM is the change HE wants.

I know many are wrestling with big changes in your lives……but instead of dreading and fearing them….let GOD’S peace rest in your heart.

Take time to grieve or regroup…..but …don’t linger too long in the pain because that’s the place Satan uses to trip us up……the pain can cause us to become bitter, hardened….hopeless.

The bible says there is an appointed time for everything….for every event under heaven.  Ecclesiastes 3:1

If change wasn’t part of life there would be no long summer evenings on the porch….we wouldn’t have the splendor of fall to look forward to…..there would be no winter for the earth to rest…and without the rest….the spring wouldn’t bring new life.

The same is true in our spiritual life.

Fervently trusting JESUS will change the shades of our faith, making them more brilliant…..no matter what season…. be it the hurts and the joys…. seasons of change spin abundance from GOD’S heart.

Change hurts…. but somewhere along the path….the evolution of the heart finds a harvest of mercy, healing, joy and new life.

Hold on tight to JESUS… embrace the change….and see what HE does next.

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Are you getting old? Or just a little older? There is a difference! Happy 50th Birthday to me!

Time is a like a roll of toilet paper….the closer it gets to the end….the faster it goes.

Time waits for no one yet affords us many pleasures.

Time awards us wisdom yet threatens our youth and vitality.

Time comes quickly and cruelly leaves us longing for more.

Time measures our days, the special occasions, the new experiences, the tearful goodbyes and the joys of new life.

Time….a friend and a foe.

I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately.  I’m turning 50 this weekend and totally amazed I’m going to be a half a century old….considered an antique….now eligible for an AARP card.

I used to think people in their fifties were old….the jokes on me now right?

As I have been embracing my slow swan dive into pre-senior citizen status, I’m actually kind of excited.

I am determined to make the next 50 years the best of my life.

In about 6 weeks I will finally have an empty nest.  My last little birdie…or buzzard is probably more appropriate…is jumping out of the Porter nest.

My husband is especially excited he won’t have to hide his Debbie cakes and ice cream and he’s counting the days until he won’t have to share the family room TV.

For some silly reason he thinks we will run through the house naked if we desire.

Not this old girl.

I’m not afraid of getting older….but I am afraid of getting old.

You see….there is a difference…and a lot of it has to do with how we think about aging.

Getting OLDER means I’m still evolving to become what GOD desires….I’m still learning….still skipping hand in hand with the passions HE’S burned into my heart.

Getting OLD signifies becoming fixed…brittle…resolved to what is happening with the body…the mind and habits.

Getting OLDER means I am not afraid to keep trying, learning new things…..dreaming new dreams.

Getting OLD means to give up the dreams.

Getting OLDER is the path GOD has set for me…and you.

Getting OLD means stopping on the path…….giving up…..giving in.

I will not give in to the lie Satan wants us all to buy….you know the lie with fear attached to it…..getting older means life is getting closer to being over?

The truth is…..GOD has a charted path and plan to walk us right into eternity.

It is our job and responsibility to seek and follow HIS path every single day until we take our last breath.

By following HIS customized path for our lives…..we won’t get bored…..tired…..or fearful.

Following HIS path and plan will renew us….give us endurance….give us joy.

I can honestly say I am more excited about my future than I have ever been.

I’m carrying the lessons of the past in my back pocket and charting for a new territory called senior citizenville….the place of discounts galore…..and I will exploit them all.

I’ll be the newest golden girl on the block with the hottest senior citizen hubby already in residence…..he’s been there a while and has been patiently waiting for me to join him.

Since he is 16 years my senior….he was excited when I turned 30….I think he’s extremely satisfied with my ever approaching 50th mile marker.

In the past I dreaded this birthday but GOD has done amazing things in my heart these last few years.

HE’S breathed new life into the now empty space of motherhood.

HE has been pursuing this stubborn heart my entire life….and I finally got smart enough to realize it.

I know my future is good…..because GOD’S got me in the palm of his hand.

I’m so thankful for where I am at now.

I am grateful for the lessons of the past….the heartaches of yesterday…the regrets surrendered to peace…..for all these experiences are now wrapped in wisdom.

I am grateful HE has given me 50 years….some hard…some easy….but all full of life and hope.

When you have JESUS….you can’t help but think….. life…and hope.

So happy 50th birthday to me…..

A golden girl in training.

I’m not getting old…thanks to the good LORD….I’m just getting a little older.

“Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.”       2 Corinthians 4:16

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Longing for my Daddy

Nothing good happens after midnight…..

So my daddy told me a million times.  I must confess I tell my kids the same thing even though they’re now adults.

Be sure your sins will find you
out….was another one of his favorites.  He would be proud I actually listened to a few things he taught me.

He was the fun daddy, always willing to do something silly to make us laugh. The first with the quick comeback, the practical joker, and the ever amusing story teller.

He passed away unexpectedly two years ago.

The landscape of our family dynamic just isn’t the same anymore.

His passing left an incredible void in our lives collectively and individually.

His pictures are around us yet they bring little comfort. 

We find ourselves saying…”Oh daddy would have liked that….or daddy would get a kick out of this or that.”

Death leaves a major hole in our hearts.

I’ve realized there is nothing in this world to fill it.

We’ve gone on with life….the family gatherings consisting of many firsts without him. 

Grandchildren graduations.

Marriages.

Birthdays.

Holidays.

The longing in my heart will never go away as long as I live on this earth…..but knowing my daddy is in heaven is comforting to a certain degree.

One day…..after I enter heaven’s gates and run into the arms of my JESUS……

I’m going to have a good laugh with my daddy.  He’s going to tell me how peculiar Noah is…..what a good singer King David is…..and he will probably make fun of Moses’s speech impediment….if he still has one.

I am sure he is spending time with Johnny Cash and perhaps the king of rock and roll, Elvis…if Elvis is there? Surely he is…..a girl can hope can’t she?

One thing for sure….I know my daddy is having a good time…..and I wouldn’t dare bring him back…..because he wouldn’t want to live on this old earth again after living in perfection.

While I cannot wait to see my daddy…..

JESUS is going to be the main attraction folks.

Do you realize when we finally come into HIS presence we will be complete…..and completely fulfilled?

All the longings of earth…..

the heartaches…..

the disappointments…..

the wrongs….

the sickness….

the life altering events…..

the handicaps….

the financial losses…..

the oppression of man……

the deaths……

all the holes in our heart will finally be filled….complete…..perfect.

“He will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelations 21:4

Man …..that’s something to look forward to isn’t it?

My heart swells just thinking about that day…..makes me homesick for my final home.

If this Father’s day has you longing for someone….or something….take heart…this too shall pass away.

One day the longings of this old life will be no more and if we know JESUS as our SAVIOR…..our broken hearts will be made complete.

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“Waiting Well” What do we do when GOD Is Silent?

It doesn’t feel good when someone gives us the silent treatment does it? I’ve been guilty of thinking GOD is giving me the silent treatment at times. I have enough faith to pray…..”Why aren’t you moving here GOD? Can’t you see what I’m going through down here LORD?”

I know HE can move and fix my problem in an instant so why doesn’t HE?  Then I seem to go through a cycle where I am up and down. One minute I’m trusting HIM and the next I’m bellyaching cause HE hasn’t moved.

I have failed the “silence during the test” class many times. It seems HE has been trying to teach me to “wait well” for the last few years. I once heard a pastor say, HE will keep putting us through the same lesson until we get it. I’ve been a real flunkie some days.

Then HE showed me the test isn’t just to learn to trust HIM but to learn to focus on HIM.  I’ve realized when I am praying and just sitting here waiting on HIM to answer…I can get pretty discouraged.

In the eighteenth chapter of Luke, JESUS was sharing the parable about the widow who kept taking her case to the judge to avenge her from her adversary.  She was persistent and the judge finally granted her request just because he was over her begging.

The LORD gave me two points to ponder from this scripture…..the first being….don’t give up asking.

JESUS shared HIS teaching of the Judge’s decision…..

 “Hear what the unjust judge said… shall not GOD avenge HIS own elect, which cry day and night unto HIM, though HE bear long with them?  I tell you that HE will avenge them speedily.”  Luke 18:7-8

In other words JESUS was saying….if this unjust judge would agree to avenge the widow….don’t you think a loving, just GOD will avenge you one day?  Give you relief?  Come back around to settle things on your account?

So even if HE is being silent….HE doesn’t want us to stop praying.

But it was the second part of verse eight that really challenged my thinking about what HE wants me to do during the silence.

“Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall HE find faith on the earth?”  Luke 18: 8b

Shall HE find faith on the earth?

Sadly, I don’t think I have been very faithful in my waiting through the years.

Yea, I go to church, I pray a lot, I study my bible everyday.  I fervently love my LORD…..but when I’m in the trenches praying about a problem….I’m not necessarily being faithful because I’m more focused on praying for GOD to come through for me….instead of really focusing on HIM.

There is a difference.

Faithfulness encompasses prayer.

Faithfulness is humbling myself in anticipation should HE say no instead of grumbling about the discomfort I’m in.

Faithfulness is asking the hard questions….GOD is there something you’re trying to show me here? Some sin?

Faithfulness is repenting of the not so obvious…secret….character flaws….keeping me from truly being clean.

Faithfulness is growing spiritually.

If I’m not growing while I am waiting…then I’m just missing an opportunity to know my LORD better.

My associate pastor says…….

“If we are walking with GOD….growth is not an option.”

If I am “waiting well”….I will be growing spiritually.

What I am doing in the waiting period is significant to being faithful.

I confess for many years I have not waited well. My actions didn’t show faithfulness….my words didn’t reveal faithfulness.

GOD may have withheld HIS hand on my behalf but HE never withheld his love, protection, provision or faithfulness to me….yet I withheld everything HE deserved.

GOD’S silence is good for me.

I can’t believe I said it….but it’s true.

GOD’S silence has taught me to evaluate how I am waiting…..

What I need to repent of…..

What I need to submit to…..

How I need to serve HIM regardless of what HE does for me….

And how I should love HIM….regardless the answer.

But here is the key to all this…..if you don’t take anything away….remember this please….

If we don’t seek to know HIM better during the trials….the heartaches….and the silent times…..we will lose hope.

The bible clearly tells us if we seek HIM…..we will find HIM.

If we repent…..HE forgives us.

If we submit…..HE blesses our humbleness.

If we praise….HE dwells with us because HE inhabits our praise.

HE reciprocates our efforts.

Let me say that again….and let it sink in…

Our GOD….will reciprocate any efforts we make to know him better….including…..

Our submission….

Our repentance….

When we go to HIM with the desire to grow in HIM…..

To give him pure praise…..with no strings attached.

HE  responds by granting peace…..

Joy….

Blessing….

 And Hope.

And if HE doesn’t answer the way we want….. we still have an intimate relationship with our precious SAVIOR……. and HE will grant HIS SWEET GRACE to us in order to accept whatever outcome HE deems HIS perfect will to be.

I’ve come to realize…

When I am walking close with GOD….its easier to accept his will and abandon mine.

Don’t just pray for the giver of all things to give you relief or what you need……get to know the giver intimately.

If we seek the giver……we will be found faithful.

lf we’re faithful…we will be “waiting well.”

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