Breaking the Pattern

It was a white board, one of those you’ll find in corporate meeting rooms all across the world.  We had one in Carter’s room.  I went upstairs, grabbed it, and came back down to sit next to him.  We were in the midst of a rough few weeks.  I remember hearing once that a sure way to break addictive behavior is to stop the pattern when it starts.

I told Carter, whenever he feels himself getting mad or sad to stop and write on the board and that Val promised to read it and address his feelings.  The deal was, she could do the same with him.  Now, instead of the conflict, they would communicate.

I had a fun time reading it after work and, overall, today was better.

We needed to break the pattern.

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I just got home from a conversation with Dr. Kay Bower, founder of Many Rivers Learning Center. The faith-based non-profit provides after school and GED classes for children and adults.  They have programs in art, computers, technology, homework help, and sports.  Dr. Bower and her work is impacting and changing the families of north-western Reading with a new and passionate view of education. I am blessed and honored to be a part of it and donate my time and writing services.

My friend Pastor Fred Liggin, head of 3e Restoration Inc. posted a great discussion on Facebook today about Jesus standing with us in the stoning circle as our advocate. What if we viewed our role as Jesus followers to jump into the circle with him?  How quick we pick up our stones (and our social media) and how slow we are to defend those in need. We demand to be heard before we protect and show love.

One of the most uncomfortable passages in the Bible: Those without sin cast the first stone. Don’t see that on too many motivational posters.

We need to break the pattern.

It is time for a shift, a change in the way we interact with the world around us, a change in education, missions, creativity and worship.  It is time for a shift in, dare I say it, church.

From a weekly service to constant serving.

From mission trips to missions living.

From “worship” to high quality explosions of music, drama, lights, sounds, images and action all pointing to the most Divine Creator.

From a Pastor to Leaders equipping others to Go and Make Disciples of all the Nations.

From dropping our kids off to hear about God once a week to parenting with God leading us every minute.

From small groups to small actions of mobile and engaged faith.

From talking about it all to making it real.

~Matt

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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Photo Credit: Norto via Compfight cc

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

The House on Fire

Today I spent almost two hours at the Mercy Community Crisis Pregnancy Center in the city of Reading.  Mercy is located directly across from the main branch of the Reading library system.  I’ve been in the library many times and never noticed the buildings across the street. They are set of old row homes and one of them is the entrance of Mercy.  I met with Sherry, the executive director, and had an amazing experience.

The building was the former residence of a doctor and has a place on the registry of historic homes. She took me on a tour of the floors, meeting rooms, and supply areas.  Mercy handles 1200 client visits a year and takes in no outside funding. They provide classes on life skills and parenting, clothes, supplies, and pregnancy tests. All of this with two full-time employees, a staff of volunteers, and money from donors.

Their focus is on helping the entire person, whether a young lady expecting her first child or a single father not knowing what to do. They present the Gospel, and a listening ear and their referrals are all by word of mouth.  They have generations of family members using their services to help get a solid foundation.  Sherry and her staff care for their clients like family.

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As I was sitting in the waiting room speaking with her, I felt an impression clear as day.  This is what I am supposed to be doing. These are stories I need to tell. These are people I need to help.  I’m not overly sensitive to the Spirit but, it was a Field of Dreams moment, the voice saying “if you write it, they will come.”

“I tell my volunteers, we are all comfortable with the front door gospel,” Sherry said, “Here we are the house on fire. We need to be like firemen, able to go through the basement windows and claw through the smoke and help put out the flames.”

As you go through this week, try to find the fires around you. They can be friends or family, coworkers or neighbors. When you move to serve, great things can happen.

~Matt