God says, “I love you”

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Let me wish you a Happy Easter.  In memorial of “Holy Week” as some churches call it, (the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday); I started reading the book of John.  I wanted to refresh myself in the story I’ve known all my life- the Easter story, Jesus’s story.  My daughter is 4, so more than ever Easter has become about Easter egg hunts and bunnies and all kinds of silly things, which have their place here and there.

As I am reading, one thing stands out to me more than ever before.  Jesus loves ME and He gave His life for ME.  I know the story inside and out; I grew up in church.  As various heartaches have happened in my life as I have grown into adulthood, I have gotten distracted from the personal side of the Bible.  When did I forget that that Jesus is personal?   Jesus came and died for us- me and you.  Yes, the whole world.  But it’s also intimate- He died for me.  For you.  Underneath the hype of Easter, is the message that you and I are loved by our Heavenly Father, enough that His Son died a painful, suffering death for us on the cross.  We celebrate that He is more powerful than death, and on Easter Sunday morning, He rose.

As you go into this weekend, I’m sure it will be busy with family and crowded Easter services.  But please just let that thought resonate in your mind- that Jesus’ sacrifice is personal, and He makes our lives here on Earth worth living.  This is what we try to help our clients at HopeQuest learn and remember, so they can take it with them when they leave our program.  Only God can make lasting change in someone’s life.

If you’re interested, the book, Vinegar Boy, was a great read.  It takes a look at Easter from a different perspective; it brings a freshness to the story that you may know by heart. Feel free to email me your thoughts at hopequest.stories@gmail.com.

Happy Easter!
Sam

Week One of Phillip’s Hike for Hope

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Phillip’s first week journal entry.
It’s Sunday afternoon and I have just completed my first week on the Appalachian Trail. What a challenge to me physically, mentally and emotionally. I’ve hiked 50.5 miles which includes the approach trail from Amilacola Falls and one zero day, climbed 15 mountains, and stood in awe of the beauty of creation. And it’smore than just hiking. Each morning my bed has to be put away, breakfast prepared and everything packed up ready for the days hike usually by 8AM. Then I hike. And hike. When the days hiking is complete, I have to unpack, make my bed, cook dinner, clean up, bear proof my food and then to bed. And I love it. I am so thankful that God has afforded me this opportunity to live my life long dream of hiking the AT.
It’s hard to believe that I will finish the Georgia section of the AT this week and move into my second state, North Carolina. But it’s been a great journey this week. And it has been a very physically demanding, more than I planned or trained for. For those of you who are wondering, no I have not wanted to quit. I do question my sanity when I must climb another 3800 feet to get over a mountain but the thrill of achieving another summit quickly neutralizes my insane moments. I am where I want to be and will enjoy every moment that God allows me to hike His mountains.

Thanks for following me my first week. May my adventure encourage you to seek to do something unique, challenging and God ordained with your life.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” Helen Keller

Click here to support Phillip’s Hike for Hope!

Here’s Phillip this morning at Unicoi Gap:

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Hope for Families

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Email_RF_WEB (2)This week, I asked one of the participants of a recent Reclaiming Families weekend (formerly known as Friends and Family weekend) to share some of his thoughts.  His sister, *Sarah, is finishing up in the Trek program, struggling with alcoholism.

“Addiction runs in our family. Our father was addicted to alcohol, and Sarah and I became addicts ourselves. I know from my own experience that no one overcomes addiction alone. It took Sarah a long time, but when she was willing finally to get help, I was very grateful that TREK was available to us.

One of the most beneficial parts was our family counseling session.  Our family patterns of “don’t feel” and “don’t talk” were challenged by Sarah and her counselors. You could feel the tension in the room, but it was also a relief for us to begin that process of changing our family dynamics.  Also, when she and I spoke about our past in our family session, I believe it helped our other family members better understand the roots of our addictions.

Today, Sarah not only looks stronger and more alive, she has a new attitude.  During the Reclaiming Families weekend, she spoke up to our family about some past hurts that she has carried for years. She showed amazing courage! I’m hopeful that a new, healthier family dynamic started at Reclaiming Families.”

We are so thankful to be able to help families work through their issues and become stronger and healthier for it.  Visit hopequestgroup.org and see how you can participate in the good work we are doing.

*Names have been changed to protect privacy.

You See the Addict- Here’s What You Didn’t See

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Behind every addiction, there is a story.

Let’s be honest.  Sometimes, when it comes to helping adults that struggle with addictions, there isn’t a lot of sympathy.  Often the view is “You made your choices, now you can suffer the consequences.”  Let’s be clear- no one chooses to be an addict.  We also know that behind addictive behavior, there is a series of life long events and emotional turmoil.  Many of these events are things that happened to them, or part of their surroundings growing up.  Not events of their choosing.  It isn’t about the behavior- drinking, drugs, or sexually acting out.  It’s about escaping the hurt, the pain, and the shame of their story; making them want to drown it out, no matter what the cost.

Check out the short video below, portraying some potential scenarios that could have contributed to addiction.

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Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”

Hiking for HopeQuest

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Meet Phillip Perry.  He decided 30 years ago that he was going to walk the Appalachian Trail.  His own personal journey led him to HopeQuest in 2010, and since then, he has been living in recovery and passionately pursuing life.  His dream of trekking across the Appalachian Trail is now becoming a reality.  Because of his positive experience with HopeQuest, he is using this experience to raise money for us.

In his own words, Phillip describes his life today.

“This year I will celebrate five years free, clean, and sober with a desire to give grace as I have received grace. It is HopeQuest that provided the tools I use each day to remain clean and committed.

Today the air is fresher, the grass is greener, and the sky is bluer, because l’m living life as never before. I no longer live in bondage to bitterness, anger, resentment and unforgiveness, needing pills to numb my feelings. I live in freedom from guilt, shame and regret. During my time at HopeQuest, God gave me Psalm 18:16-19 as my life verses: “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because he delighted in me.”

On this hike, I want to take every step in gratefulness and appreciation for the steps HopeQuest took to help me gain freedom in 2010.”

MAP_WEBPhillip’s hike will take him from Georgia to Maine, approximately 2,180 miles, and 6 months.  Phillip is leaving April 15th and returning the beginning of October.  How can you support us on Phillip’s “Hike for Hope”?  We are asking for either a donation per mile amount, or to sponsor a day of his journey. The money you contribute will go straight to our ministry.  This is a wonderful opportunity to support us, and one of our own clients who has overcome so much.  Looking forward to sharing this journey with you!

To donate, click here, or you can mail us a check (P.O. Box 2699, Woodstock, GA, 30188) and specify Phillip’s Hike for Hope.

Please follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and subscribe to our weekly emails, to keep up with Phillip on his adventure!

Trek Program Changes- Official Statement

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At HopeQuest, our goal and desire is to offer recovery, refuge, and restoration, to individuals and families. One of the ministries we offer is our TREK residential program. For the past 8 years, TREK has been available to both male and female clients. However, after a year of prayer and ministry evaluation, the HopeQuest Executive Leadership Team and the Board of Directors have announced that suspending female admissions as of March 20, 2014, will enable HopeQuest to better steward the resources God has given us at this time. The decision was made in part due to a lack of applicants for the female program during the past three months while potential male clients were placed on a waiting list, leaving usable beds open and resources unused. In light of this difficult decision, HopeQuest remains excited about the direction God is taking us and will continue to pursue excellence in being Christ-centered and clinically effective. We are looking forward to the day we are able to reopen admission to women and appreciate your support in this time of transition.

We are NOT Sorry

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bible-readingSometimes, we need to say we are sorry.  We just do, and at Hopequest, we do use the word “sorry” in the context of feeling regret or sadness when we have hurt someone.  And that is appropriate.

But there are some times we are not sorry, and one of those is that we are not just a Clinically Effective organization, but we are one that is unapologetically Christ Centered.  It is something that we will not compromise on.

As a result, we have an immediate need that you can help us with.  We would like EVERY client that comes to the Hopequest TREK program to have a good study Bible.

The leather bound study Bibles are $40 each.  You can sponsor 1, 2, or as many as you would like!

Help us continue to build our programs on being both clinically effective and CHRIST CENTERED!

Donate towards Client Study Bibles!

 

 

If Only I Had a Heart

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” The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched; they must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller

What do you consider to be the most beautiful things in the world?  Helen Keller says these things cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart.  The words that come to my mind when I think about beautiful things I can’t see or touch would be love, understanding, and acceptance.  Do you have people in your life that make you feel these beautiful things?

For a long time, I have closed my heart.  I didn’t want to be hurt or judged and so it seemed like I’d be better off guarded.  In the recent months, I have come to realize that guarding my heart may protect me from pain or hurt, but it also doesn’t allow for those real heart feelings- love, understanding, and acceptance, to make their way in.  Allowing my heart to open has been a slow and sometimes painful process, but I feel strongly that I want to feel these beautiful things that Helen Keller talks about.  I want to offer them to the people in my life as well.

When Tin Man in Wizard of Oz wanted a heart, he wanted a physical beating heart. Little did he know that he had “heart”, for in fact, he was the most tender of all the characters.   I think this is a great example of how we all have heart; it’s just a matter of recognizing it and using it.

Maybe there is someone in your life that you have closed your heart to.  Someone that you feel you cannot offer the unseen “beautiful things” Helen Keller talks about.  And maybe you have good reason to close your heart!  But I just want to challenge you today to take a small step towards that person.  Your small step could be something as simple as a prayer.  I’m on this journey with you as we try to open our hearts and really feel those beautiful things.

Thinking of you,
Sam

 Tin Man’s song better not be yours! Click here to find out!

Put ‘em up Put ‘em up – The Cowardly Lion

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 I’ve been thinking a lot about courage today, about what it means to be courageous.  I think oftentimes the bravest people we know don’t consider themselves brave.  Maybe those on the front lines are actually afraid and unsure.  I know I am.

Mary Anne Radmacher said “Courage doesn’t always roar.  Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”  This quote speaks to me because of what it symbolizes.  Some days, or months, it may seem like nothing “big” is happening.  Where is the dramatic redemption story?  The answer to desperate prayers?  But sometimes courage isn’t the huge moments; it’s in the everyday doing of the right things.  Doing what God has called you to do, even when you aren’t seeing remarkable results at the moment.

At HopeQuest, we get a little of both sides, just like you.  Times when someone’s entire life is changed by Jesus, and we get to be a part of it.  Other times, there’s a relapse, or a relationship that cannot be repaired.  We just have to remain faithful in our calling to offer recovery, restoration, and refuge, and most of all, hope.

1 Cor. 15:58 (ESV) says “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”  Another word for steadfast is committed or unwavering.  Be unwavering in God’s work, because it’s not for nothing.  God’s got your back!   He can see the big picture; and the piece that you’re working on will fit right in where it’s supposed to.

In the things going on in your life, those prayers you’ve been praying for a loved one, the addiction you’re trying to beat, I just encourage you today to be steadfast, daily, doing the right things.  Your remarkable result is coming, at just the right time.

Thinking of you,

Sam

PS  Courage often comes from community.  Connect with us and be a part of our community conversation on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  Or you can always reach out and share your story with me at hopequest.stories@gmail.com

PSS Are you like this lion? Click here to watch!

 

Do You Love Yourself?

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That’s right, you.

The past month we have talked about the stereotype of the perfect family, the “heart dump”, and the benefits of personal counseling.  These are all methods of reaching the same goal: mental and emotional health, for you and the people involved in your life.  Although our external relationships are vital and influential, our relationship with ourselves is even more important.

While you may have never thought of it before, you are the one person you can never get away from.  Are there things in your past that you can’t forgive yourself for?  How do you mentally talk to yourself- do you beat yourself up for mistakes?  Do you call yourself names like ugly, loser, fat, stupid?  Or maybe you think more highly of yourself than you should.  On either side of the spectrum, it’s important to have a healthy balance. Without it, our self-talk and how we view ourselves can drive us to do things we shouldn’t…drink too much to be “more fun”, take some pills to “relax”, or stay in that abusive relationship thinking it’s what we deserve.

Personally, I am trying to change my thought processes, about myself and life in general!  One thing I’ve been doing lately is trying to thank God before I get out of bed each morning.  When my alarm goes off, I have a reminder set at the same time on my iPhone.  The reminder says “Give thanks to the Lord; for He is good, His love endures forever “(Psalm 107:1).  This is a really easy way to start the day with a good mindset.

At HopeQuest, our desire is to see you and your family healthy, happy, and whole, in all aspects.  Today I challenge you to give some thought to where you are in your relationship with yourself, and what you could do to improve it. Even at my worst moment, I am still Christ in (your name here). Click here for a great resource that you can check out as a reminder of who you are in Christ.

I’d love to hear your tips or thoughts on changing your self-talk or mindset.  You can email me at hopequest.stories@gmail.com.

Thinking of you,
Sam