4 Things I Learned From Watching an Intervention Marathon

Two months back my wife and I gave up cable.  Carter and Aiden had their select shows they watched on Netflix or Hulu. We spent even less time flipping through channels.  After talking about it, we decided it was a monthly expense we could do without.

So, this requires us to work like Carter and Aiden and find shows available on the streaming services.  One of our favorites is A & E’s Intervention. If you are not familiar with it, the show is a documentary that follows an addict around and ends with a surprise intervention and the family trying to convince the addict to go to treatment.

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Every episode is set up the same. You have an Intro, Biography, Dramatic Addict Footage, Intervention, and Post Intervention follow-up. As the show progresses, you see how deep some of these people are in their addictions and, if you do some research, you find out that not every one is a success story.  Some end up losing their lives in their struggles.

As as writer, and father, I am fascinated by what finally convinces the addicts to go to treatment. After watching about 98,154 episodes, I think I’ve seen some patterns. Here are four things I’ve learned from Intervention:

1/Learn to Process Tragedy– Every addict has a catalyst.  No one wakes up one morning with the desire to try heroin for the first time without any reason. Some of the episodes had horrific back stories.  So many were molested or lost friends and loved ones to crime or accidents. One of the hardest things we do in life is process tragedy.

What happens when you break?  Do you have somewhere to fall? Someone to call? Friends? Family? Faith?

2/Set Boundaries– Co-dependency is present in almost every episode of the show.  It is rare to have an addict out on an island with the rest of the family looking away. Spouses and family members hook their happiness on the addict’s happiness and the cycle spirals out of control.

This year Val and I have determined to have more discipline in this house.  It is so easy to let your kids run the place.  If they understand cause and effect and that they have limits, it will help improve things in the future.

3/Fathers are Important- If I had a dollar for every episode where an addict said they would go to treatment because their father cried/showed emotion at the intervention, I’d be set. When was the last time, as a dad, you showed and told your kids that you loved them? They remember everything and they need it, especially coming from fathers.

4/Believe Your Kids- In many of the episodes where the addict was molested, they went and told their parents who then did nothing about it.  The parents either brushed it off in ignorance or told their kids they were lying.  If your child comes to you with something as horrific as a molestation claim, why would you not handle it?

If you haven’t seen the show, be sure to check it out and, soon, you’ll find yourself making these lists like me.  And if you, or anyone you know are dealing with addiction, please get help.  You are worth it.

~Matt

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The Pen and the Sword

Words change things. Look back through history and you’ll find mass cultural movements founded on the end of a pen, quill, or other writing device.  Authors have always worked to make their voices known.  Stories take shape into lives and the passing of generations.

Without Thomas Paine and Common Sense, we wouldn’t be discussing freedom of speech.

Then you have terrorists attacking a magazine in France over an offensive comic.  Multiple people killed and injured.

Over a comic.

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As writers we are called to document our world and comment on the human condition. We use our words to add to the conversation. We stand with the artists who were martyred for their work today and with the artists who will pick up their pens tomorrow and keep drawing, creating their messages for the world.

One of the oldest sayings we throw around is that the pen is mightier than the sword. It is the truth. In the face of oppression, of fanatics willing to kill in their demented form of criticism, of a marginal group attempting to bully the world, the creation will continue.

Because somewhere today, a child is picking up a crayon and drawing a picture, planting the seed of the next great artist, tapping into the electric current of creativity they don’t even know they have.

Because tomorrow, another child will do the same.

Because the bad guys will never win.

~Matt

The Tipping Point

Malcom Gladwell writes some of the most interesting nonfiction books you’ll find on the market.  The first book of his I’d read was titled Blink, all about the science behind split-second cognition and how and why we think the way we do. He has a gift of taking research and breaking it down into terms easy to understand and digest.

He also wrote a book titled The Tipping Point. The concept behind a “tipping point,” is that one moment when an idea, product, or movement is embraced by the masses.  It is the moment something reaches viral status.  It is the catalyst for change, when you must do something.

We have these moments in our lives.  I had one today.

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You can be driven to your tipping point by positive and negative forces.  Our dreams and successes pull us forward into life changes.  Our stresses and fatigues push us to make a move. Fear is often the only thing holding us back and, believe me, fear works both ways.

Fear of success can be just as strong as fear of failure.

There are times we need to set hard end lines in life. We must embrace change, push ourselves forward into the journey and make a real move towards our end result.

There are times we are called out on the water. Today, as I drove home from work, that impression hit me clear as the ice that coated my car windshield. It is time to step out of the boat, to have an active and alive faith, to make a move towards total dependence on God and transforming P356 into a valid and living ministry.

I’m typing this listening to our neighbors fight while Carter and Aiden sleep in their rooms.  They deserve so much more.

So, if you are where I am tonight, know that you are not alone.  If you’ve debated that dream, pray about taking a step towards it. If you are too scared to face the storm, know that there is one who calms the waves.  He reaches out his hand is waiting for you to grasp it.

This is the first step.

~Matt

Soundtrack Inspiration: Val’s favorite song.  I’ve posted it here before but it is so relevant to my feelings tonight.

Joy vs. Temptation

For Christmas, Val got me an album from one of my favorite bands, Tenth Avenue North (yes I still listen to CD’s in my car, scary, I know). The title track is called Cathedrals. The message of the lyrics hits home to me on many levels.  Check out the lyric video.

One of the lines from the chorus tells us:

Let Joy Take Temptation’s Place

On Sunday, our church started a series on quieting the noise in our lives.  I don’t know about you, but temptation creeps up on me in the midst of the noise.  It is just too easy to be on the phone and ignoring Val and the kids. Thoughts scatter all different directions.  Stress presses down with a weight that can make us shut down and lose our temper.

What if we prayed to replace it with Joy? What if, in your darkest moments, you found happiness? What if the voice of temptation could quiet and be replaced with worship? With realization of your divine dream and calling?

As we look at a new year, let’s pray for more joy in our lives. I know I could use it. Our marriages and families could use it.  Let’s take 2015 and invest in the joy the comes from knowing our Creator.

Open up our souls
To feel your glory
Lord, we are a desperate people
Your cathedrals
Come fill this space
Let joy take temptation’s place
We will taste and see you as you are

~Matt

Donuts

This year, as a family, we decided to change our mindset.  Inspired by a post I found on Reddit, we are taking every day to note down one thing that makes us happy that day.  The notes are going to be stored in a box and, next year, we will open it up.  Val, Carter, and I are each doing it so, in the end, we’ll have over 1000 cards of moments that made us happy.

Yesterday, my mother took Carter to her house to spend the night.  Val told me he did his Happy card for the day before he left.  She held it up to show me:

Donuts

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Val had picked up one for him from Wawa in the morning and that was his happy moment for the day.

As parents, believers, writers, creators, and dreamers we tend to get trapped in complications.  We find our big ideas and, in our insecurities, can find trouble just as easily. The voice of doubt waits to strike the instant it gets a chance.

Want to know one of the most critical points in life?  That minute after inspiration.  That second you articulate your dream and the silence that follows.

I want to…write a book, change my career, join a life group, be a better spouse, find love…but

at this point we need to fight the followup. Ignore the excuses. Quiet the noise.

Soak in the joy from giving your dream voice and permission. Allow yourself to dream. Visualize your success.  What could life look like on the other end of the journey?  On the way, don’t forget to enjoy the small things and have a donut every once in a while.

~Matt

The Starting Line

As with my last post, I’m continuing a look at 2015 inspired by author Michael Hyatt and his 5 Days to Your Best Year program…

Today was rough.  We had started the yearly process to verify all insurances for our active patients. Basically, it will be forty or fifty lengthy phone calls, paperwork, and scanning.  It was enough to have me drained at the end of the day.

I drove home dreaming about the future of P356 and finishing this book.  The twenty-minute ride was enough to lighten my mood.  It always pays to take time to dream your dreams and focus on your goals.  The first step is often the hardest and always the most valuable.

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So what is it you want?

Now there are a string of usual answers.  Get in shape, make money, get the promotion, find our mister or miss right.  I’m talking about a higher level.  What is your dream for 2015? What is your big goal?

We must start by stating a clear and direct intention.

We spend so much time standing at the starting line.  We dance around it, walk away and come back.  We even take a few steps forward before getting distracted and ending up back at the start. A clear and direct intention is key.

Write it down. Remind yourself on a daily basis.

My goal is for P356 to grow into a valid ministry, outreach, social service, and business.  I drove home with this in my mind and it was amazing how it helped to clear the dark skies and make the target visible.

As you start 2015, think of your big intention.  Grasp hold of it and chase it down.  When you can see the target, you can move forward and movement is the key to your best year ever in 2015.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” Hebrews 12:1

~Matt