Thursday, July 21, 2016

Flowers or weeds?!

Do you see flowers or do you see weeds?!

It truly is all about perspective. What you believe you see is the message your eyes will send to your brain which eventually ends up in your heart and causes you to feel a certain way about the thing you originally saw. 

Today I ask you to try to see the flowers as beautiful and not the weeds that don't belong. 

Understand that the although the weeds may be a nuisance at times, they are still quite beautiful if you simply change the way in which you view them

Peace and love to you today and always

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

My first sermon: Stones of Support

I have been asked by a number of people who were unable to be at church last month when I shared the SOS message in the form of a sermon to share it publicly. This is what I shared:


Good morning,
I am here to share a message that is very important to me, my family, and I am certain some of you. I imagine a world where the offering of support in the form of prayer comes from every voice, from every denomination and is for everyone. 
After courageously fighting for many years, Ben, Hillary’s fiancé and Cam & Links dad, lost his battle with the disease of addiction in March of 2015. I wanted to do something that honored his memory, honors those who continue to fight the fight, others that no longer can, and all those that love or have loved them. 
SOS Stones of Support began with the idea that people who are affected by addiction in any way have a physical token of support that could be held onto as a reminder that they are not alone and that prayers of hope and healing are being said for them every day. I enlisted my children to help with painting the stones that we collect with inspirational words and images. We sit around our dining room table, share laughter, stories, and prayers for the people who will be receiving them. It is our goal to find ways to connect our families in Spirit. If a telephone that has no wires can send a message of words and energy to people all over the world in a matter of seconds then our prayers will most certainly make it even farther with the help of God. You do not need to be a follower of Jesus to understand that prayer heals and I am reminded that Jesus himself reached out to those that did not believe.
I designed a blog to go along with the stones where you can find more peace filled messages and images that is then shared with a Facebook page so that we can reach as many folks as possible. The stones are bagged and tied with cards that have our families story and our goal of trying to create a worldwide prayer chain. The only thing we ask in return is that if you are able to please join in our prayers, however you are able.
We have delivered several hundred stones via mail, detox centers, al-anon groups, sober houses, addiction resource programs, homeless shelters and of course many individual stones for friends and family. Ben’s mom has started creating stones that she can offer to those that she knows as well because of the demand, and our kids have enlisted their friends to help with painting the stones. I had no idea when I started this project how organically it would grow into what it is today and the level of reach that would occur in such a short period of time.  It has truly been a mustard seed of sorts. I know the Holy Spirit has been at work in my life to help me, to help others. Every day I am thankful for having been given the gift of faith in a higher power that reminds me that when you reach out with a message of kindness it changes lives.
Although, theologically I have a lot to learn, my faith and knowledge of the power of God’s healing love through Jesus and the Holy Spirit is strong and I am honored to share my beliefs here with you today. This is where the message comes in; I believe that God is everywhere and is in everything and loves each and every one us for who we are, in spite of the fact that we fall short, and we all do. That is Grace!
I believe that God sent Jesus to be a teacher, to show us all what true unconditional love is. I believe that God is a, “both/And” God. What I mean by that is that God loves that I believe in Jesus; however, I also believe that he wants me to reach out to others who may not know Him and not only share His message but to be willing to understand and accept others who know God through different ways of sharing peace and love throughout the world. The God, for me who would give up his only Son so that we could live would never discount someone else who sought to do good works, because it was in the name of someone else. That, for me, is a God who wants peace for all people of the earth.
Our readings this morning focus on knowing God, through Jesus and Spirit, the power of prayer and loving one another. Our hymn of the day is hymn number 333 (333 is the tattoo I have in memorial of Ben that represents balance of mind body and soul) out of curiosity I looked to see what hymn 333 was and I know that is not a coincidence that it was “Jesus is a rock in a weary land”. That is what I like to call a “God wink”, God’s way of using everyday things to show His presence. It is a Lenten hymn and yet appropriate for today because it is a reminder once again that it is never over. Our relationship with God is forever, it is in this life and the life everlasting. 
James says, “the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sin will be forgiven. It goes on to say praying for one another IS effective and will bring healing. This message is so powerful, Elijah, a human being, prayed “fervently” and his prayers were answered. I believe God answers every prayer. Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes no, and sometimes it is wait. That is not easy for most to understand. Some believe that the answer should always be yes, and if it is not, then the prayer is not answered. That is where faith and knowing God comes in. Let go, and Let God, is one of the stones Annie created. To move forward in any situation you must let go of what is holding you back. One of the greatest gifts I have received by faith is that when I am not able to fix something that is broken in my life, I can Let go of it and give it to God in prayer. It is not MY giving up on finding a solution, it is merely saying I need help, and who better to help than the one who loves me the most.
Paul goes on to continue this message, however in a different way. It begins, with Christ setting us free, goes on to say that we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves, understands that, at times, we don’t and ends with the same message that it began with to live and be guided by the Spirit. I believe forgiveness, in others, and ourselves is the underlying message here. There is a whole list of the things we should not do; It says those who are slaves to these things will not inherit the kingdom of God. For me the kingdom of God is the list that follows “the don’ts list”; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Those are the fruits of the spirit and those things can’t be found in the “don’t’s list”. God shows His kingdom to us on earth in the fruit of the Spirit to prepare us for eternal life with Him. Again we are called to work together to share that “fruit”. God does not want us to be alone, the love I have received through Jesus reminds me of that every day.
In our Gospel for today, Jesus questions Peter, who he believes he is; (which by the way pastor shared with me the origin of the name Peter is a Greek word, meaning rock or stone, again a coincidence, I think not. Peter responds, “you are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”. Jesus tells him that he is blessed because it is not the flesh and blood that revealed this to him, it was the Father in heaven. In the beginning and in the end it all comes down to faith. It is not about a stone or a physical reminder, yes they are helpful, but what has made a difference throughout the history of the world is connections. Our connection with God and our connections with one another. Today, I ask that you join me in a moment of silent prayer for healing the minds bodies and souls of all who suffer, today especially those who are faced with addiction.………………………….……In the name of Jesus Christ our lord and Savior whose love and support I am ever so grateful for, 

Peace be with you

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Your relationship with addiction

At an addiction conference I attended there was a discussion on how each person who suffers from addiction is in a relationship with what they are addicted to. If we look at the relationships in our lives, there are ones that we respect and honor and ones that tend to drain us of our energy. Which relationships would you rather have more of? I have never been addicted to illegal drugs or alcohol, however, I was a cigarette smoker for a very long time. I started as a teenager and over the years I have quit, relapsed, quit, relapsed and quit again. I thought I 'loved' smoking. It was relaxing for me, it was 'my time' it was my only 'vice' other than smoking I took pretty good care of myself.

 Here's where the trouble comes in; my relationship with smoking created problems in my life, my kids didn't like it and I told them 'don't ever smoke, it is terrible and can kill you', and yet there I was making excuses because I smoked. It costs a bloody fortune! The things I could have purchased and the places I could have gone over the years had I not been in that relationship I dare to even consider.  When I quit for the last time, (and this is the last time, I have realized that the relationship hurt me more than it helped me) cigarettes were just over $8.00 a pack; which at a pack a day adds up to $2920.00 over the course of a year. Over the course of that relationship that lasted 25 years the grand total comes out to be somewhere in the vicinity of 73,0000 dollars! WOW, that is a lot of money spent on something that could have killed me and I spent most of my time hiding from people because of the embarrassment I felt for making that choice.  Please know that if you are a smoker, this is not intended to harass you or make you look bad or feel bad about yourself. I still miss smoking and face the cravings and wish there was a way I could justify it in my own life. For me, I had to stop but that was for me. In no way am I judging, as it used to piss me off when people would judge me.

I learned through many years of therapy that every choice we make in our lives has either a payoff or a consequence. For me, the consequences of smoking far outweighed the benefits which is why I was ready to make the choice to quit.
Ben's memorial garden in full bloom thanks to a lot of TLC from Hillary and Cameron

If you are an addict reading this, I would ask you these questions; does your addiction offer you more joy, or discomfort on a daily basis? What is the cost to your wallet, your dignity and your health? If your mom, or daughter, was an addict, what would you tell her. Is your relationship with your addiction worth the ultimate cost of what you pay for it?

I learned from this conference and others I have attended recently that although I have been the parent of a daughter for 12 years that has struggled with what began as substance abuse back in middle school I have a lot to learn. I am a researcher and will try anything and everything to try to help those I love. Every time I think I have tried everything, I learn of a new treatment, or a new way to combat the disease, or a new resource that is out there that I wasn't aware of.

Please, I beg of you, even if you think you have tried everything and think you have failed, you haven't actually tried everything because every day there are new ideas and therapies being tried and are succeeding in offering a life that can be free of a relationship that hurts you more than helps.  Please reach out and keep looking for the one that will work for you.

I am reminded of a quote I first heard as a child;
If at first, you don't succeed, try and try again!

My heart believes that you are worth a life filled with relationships that build you up and help to strengthen you mind~body~soul

Much love today and always
Peace be with you

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Stages of grief over loss

Stages of grief

The primary definition of grief is:
keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret

Loss means different things to everyone and everyone experiences loss in different ways. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a psychiatrist who specialized in death and dying shared the idea of grief having five stages.


The idea is that most people go through some form of these stages when there is a loss. When I learned my daughter was a heroin addict, I suffered a major loss; the loss of innocence for my daughter and my other children and the loss of security that at any moment the disease of addiction could take her away from me. I have suffered and still suffer over those losses. A parent or loved one of an addict always sleeps with one eye open knowing that the disease could rear its ugly head at any moment. I have experienced every single emotion that the stages of grief represent. It is never the same and it is not 1-5 most of the time it is 1, then 3, then 5, then 2, then back to 1. The point is that it is a process that never seems to end. 

When Ben left this life (still can't say died, because I have not accepted that yet) it was the most heart wrenching experience ever for those of us that loved and still love him. I only knew Ben for a few years before he died and yet for me, it was a lifetime. Long enough to know that my life would never be the same. I spent some time this past weekend with his mom and she shared that she too could simply not move on. It is too hard. I know how I feel having only known him for a few years, I can not imagine how she must feel having lost her baby boy. Sometimes life is simply not fair and although many strides are being made toward more support for those facing this disease it was not soon enough to save him. I have shared the many signs that Ben is still near in spirit, although the past couple days those signs haven't been there. I could not figure out why I was out of sorts until I realized that the hawks and pennies weren't there to remind me that he is still with us. I don't know why, but what I do know is there is a reason. Maybe Ben is trying to let me know that it is time to try to move forward and that he is out there but that life is still going on around me. I don't know for certain but what I do know is that as grateful as I am for everyone in my life and that my daughter continues to live and fight the fight, I am sad and angry that Ben is not walking into the kitchen every morning and walking up the stairs to bed every night. 

This is a photo of Ben and Cam at Cam's baptism

Today my prayer is that those of you reading this that are still actively using or are in the recovery stage of the disease, know that I love you and I want you to live. I do not want anyone else to die. It is something that the people that love you will never get over. There may be days of acceptance however those days are few and far between, it is possible to be sober for the rest of your life; it will be hard but it will be worth it. 

For those of you that have suffered an unimaginable loss please know that I love and pray for you every day as well. It sucks to be a family of loss but we are not alone. Whether or not we see signs of our loved ones presence in this world or not, they are still with us as memories that are etched on our hearts for all eternity, until we meet again 💙

Heavenly Spirit
Thank you for another day to remember Ben and all those suffer with addiction in our thoughts and prayers. 
Please watch over all who grieve the losses that this disease causes. 
Help them to see your healing presence in their lives today and always 

PS I wrote this this morning at Crescent Lake on my way to work and as I was getting up to leave, this is what I found:

It may not be a hawk or a penny from heaven but it is a feather, another form of messages from beyond that we are not alone

Peace be with you and
God bless 🙏🏼

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Saving the baby...................

Almost a year ago, Izabel found a baby bird (nestling) on the ground below the birdhouse that the same family of birds nests in every year. It was still alive, however it did not seem as though it would be for very long. She was devastated and cried to me that we had to save this bird. I knew that there was no way we could save it, that for it to survive the parents would have to take it back. This was a strong little bird, I believe it got too close to the edge and simply fell out. The mom and dad sat on the house chirping and flying around frantically, but there was nothing they could do. I researched what our options were while Izabel held it in a towel, praying that it would be okay.  To my surprise, the sites I looked at said that if we knew where it came from to put it back and wait. I carefully climbed the ladder with the baby in my hand and shoved it in the hole of the house while the mom and dad looked on. The baby chirped so loudly while I held it that it actually scared me a bit. I nervously climbed down and watched as the mom and dad both flew in to the nest chirping loudly as well and then there was silence. The family was back together and it seemed as though the baby would be okay. I am certain those parents probably slept with one eye open until that little bird could fly on its own, for fear of losing it again.


At times our little birds fall, and hopefully they realize how hard it is out there without the support of those that love them. Today my prayer is that all our little ones make it back to the nest safe and sound and that there are plenty of Izabels out there to show them the way and to never give up hope.

All creatures great and small, the Lord God made them all
Thank you for your mercy and kindness
toward those that have fallen
I ask that you bless their lives
with those that will look out for them until
they are home safely

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Don't let yesterday use up too much of today

Yesterday is history,
tomorrow is a mystery,
today is a gift,
that's why we call it the present
-Eleanor Roosevelt

Living in the past can lead to depression over the could've, should've, would have's, living in the future can lead to anxiety over what's to come, living in the present allows our minds bodies and souls to focus on the here and now and whatever that here and now holds.


The past is just that, the past. It is important to remember where we have come from and the events and people that have shaped our lives; sometimes those memories lift us up and sometimes they bring us down. Trying to remember to move forward when the past is still holding you back is easy to say and not so easy to do. When events from the past have caused us to mistrust or bring into our hearts overwhelming sadness, it is hard to let those things go, and no one should try to tell someone how or when to do that. Healing has to occur in it's own time and for each person that is different.

Worrying too much about tomorrow or trying to plan out every aspect of our lives can cause anxiety, all of the what if's can fill our minds with unnecessary distress. It is important to look toward the future so that you can have the future you desire, however if you plan too much today doesn't matter as much as it should.

Today is a new day, everyday is a new day and a new opportunity to live the life you have in the best way you know how, that hopefully brings happiness in some form to your mind body and spirit. Everyday is not going to be all hearts & flowers, that is unrealistic; however everyday can have joy, peace and comfort in the form of all the little things we simply take the time to notice and be grateful for.

If we do our best to look at each day as an opportunity to shine, the sadness and resentments of yesterday can fade further into the past, where they belong.

For me, letting your light shine means two things; first it means shining my light to guide my own way and see my path more clearly, and secondly, it means shining my light on others to light their way when their light might not be a bright.

Today I ask you to try something that has worked wonders for me; I have a little journal that has a page for things I am grateful for and a page for random acts of kindness that I have done for others. By writing them down it shows me if there is a balance between the two and when I am having a bad day I can look back and see the things I am grateful for and the folks I have tried to make smile.
These do not have to be fancy things, they can be as simple as being grateful that you missed the traffic on the way to work (that is a huge one for me) and as simple as holding a door for someone or smiling and saying hello, sometimes that is all someone needs to turn their day around.


By living with gratitude and kindness, you are living in the present, and the present is what you choose to make of it, the hard part is getting those around you to share that same belief. Keep trying, and keep praying, these are the days of our lives and we get to choose how we live them.

Divine Spirit of the past, present and future
I am grateful for the people you have placed in my life,
Some I have learned from and some have learned from me.
Please bless my present with joy, peace, and love;
help me to see that the future will arrive in its own time
and the need to love and be grateful today
in order to have a brighter tomorrow

With love always,

Friday, July 1, 2016

Pennies from heaven!

Pennies from heaven is a phrase known by many people; it is a belief that when you find a penny (or dime, nickel or quarter) that they are little reminders from those who have left this life that they are still with us and watching over us.

I believe this is true, often when I am either sad or contemplative I will find a penny and instantly a face pops into my head, sometimes it is my step dad, Ben or a patient that I have lost (I lose a lot, I work in hospice). It brings to mind some memory or thought that they want me to remember. There has been a lot of challenges in my life recently and I seem to be finding more of those pennies from heaven. I am happy when I find them and even happier when I find them in the most random places where they don't necessarily belong. When I have looked at the same spot over and over and then the next time I look there they are, it is a mystery to me and that is okay, some mysteries don't need to be solved.

I have a top loading high efficiency washing machine (random information) and this morning I decided to clean it. There is a tablet that you place in the washer when it is empty and you run the cleaning cycle.  The top door of my washer is glass and you can see in. I started the cycle with it completely empty and wiped down and about 1/2 way through I happened to walk by and look in.

This is what I saw

Another penny from heaven, sitting right there at the bottom of the tub in plain sight. The difference with this penny is that it is so worn down that it was hard to tell that it was what it was, however it is still a penny.

I was having a bit of a rough morning; trying to rebuild things that have been broken for quite a while is hard work and at I was feeling pretty worn out myself.  What I needed was a little pick me up from the universe and there it was. A penny, worn out almost unrecognizable and yet still a penny!

Dear lord
although sometimes our lives seem almost unrecognizable
I am grateful that you still see ME
in spite of the wear & tear
Thank you for your compassion
and your pennies from heaven
Love, Kristyn