Chaos vs Peace - 3min Read

Peace was a conundrum to me. It depended on the rhythm the day took me through and what substances I had birthed into my bloodstream.

Peace was 3 Vicodin, 2-3 beers, and a joint. But even in the pursuit of trying to balance the perfect buzz, slowly but very surely, I was voluntarily throttling my life into an unbalanced reality of darkness and destruction.

The storm within was whipping with hurricane force winds, a torrential downpour, and the rising flood water. A dark paradox materializes as one makes their bed in the confines of addiction, but once the taste of drugs seeps into your spiritual taste buds the foul aftertaste can be difficult to cleanse from the pallet.

Imagine being locked in a portable prison. The key seems to be so elusive and near impossible to locate yet it’s hidden in the depths of your own hand.

Everyone around you eventually knows better then you do of your imprisonment, but your full-time job has morphed into being your own prisoner, guard, and warden. All the while you're trying to convince the world around you that you are free and they are the imprisoned ones.

Cries for help look more like verbal cheap shots and misunderstanding fuels the fire of accusations and painful relational distance. The brief inebriated reprieves grow into never-ending blurred numbing.

Every so often a ray of hope shines to the core of you, but your willpower has been handed over to the dictator of darkness. The loving attempts of intervention appear as a lion's den of deceit through the foggy lens of your drug-fueled existence.

Even during the entirety of your dark drudgery, the choice is yours. The invisible, yet clearly visible, chains of addiction are weighty. But the key has been in your hand the entire time.

The key is your surrendering. A surrendering and admission of personal responsibility. This verbal agreement for help pumps a new found strength through your being and the needed energy empowers you to open your hand, and at last, the key is recognized.

And in a moment you realize that your victory was waiting for you at the core of your surrendering to a God that has been waiting for you to put your gift of free will to use for hope, love, and freedom. It’s then that peace, that elusive and seemingly distant peace, rolls in like a thick fog that clears the air.

The peace you once thought would come through your attempts at managing your buffet of mind-altering substances, ended up coming in the form of a much richer substance. A substance so pure that any additives would dilute the beauty of it.

The grace smile of a Father that was waiting for you to return to His open arms of love and forgiveness.

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The Reward of Surrender - 2min Read

The oddity of “giving up” in order to be victorious needs a context for the person that has yet to experience this reality.

Surrender can carry such a weak connotation. We think of an admission of defeat. Giving up is for “quitters”, right? When the vernacular of addiction and recovery speaks of surrender defeat is not the point trying to be conveyed. 

The person who is in over their head to the beast of addiction has definitely sunk their heels in and put up the best fight they could in trying to manage their obsession with which ever substances they are chained to. 

So when surrender is mentioned, it is mentioned with the emphasis of stopping the futile fight and stepping into a different fight. This new fight will still need your grit and determination, but this new reality carries a true reward with it. The reward is freedom. 

Surrender is giving up isolation, giving up the solo attempt at changing, giving up the idea that you can some how manage addiction on your own, and giving up the ways of thinking that have lead you into the spiritual prison that the depths of addiction take people to. 

Surrender is claiming the victory and joining the army of recovery warriors. Surrender is where real strength is found, and giving up doing it your way is the entry point into a victory that carries unending spoils. 

Surrender is retiring from trying to fight against God, but continuing to exert the same energy and fight to fight with and for God. God is not against you, and God didn’t put you through addiction and problems to “toughen” you up. God wants you free more then you want to be free. 

So give up. Stop fighting the futile fight and put that brilliant energy to use for the reality of the reward. Your life is worth it and you can live an unimaginably beautiful life of freedom. 

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The Weight of Surrender - 3min read

It had been a long and paranoid drive. My mind was juggling three different pinball games and the only thing that was certain was that my future was completely uncertain. 

It had been a long 13yrs of drug and alcohol addiction, anger, suicidal thinking, and a lonely dark depression. I just wanted it to be over. I was out of options, out of people to beg from, and out of energy to keep chasing the dark dream of addiction. 

There I was driving back home to my parents house at the age of twenty six with nothing but a long list of overwhelming problems. I had been drinking myself to death in the small town of nowhereville USA. I had no license, no insurance, no registration, and a handful of warrants out for my arrest. Needless to say, the two and a half hour drive stirred a thick and intensely unhealthy anxiety. 

I was recalling the unwanted and humbling phone call I made to my parents asking for help to try and get into a rehab. They reluctantly agreed and I faced my mess with the first step of driving to their house. 

The uncomfortable arrival, yet safe haven, was near as I pulled off the freeway toward their place. I had spent many years driving the back roads avoiding police in their city, so I figured it’d be a safe bet for the last five minutes of driving.

As I turned my Infiniti G20 down a back road it just so happens that a cop turned right behind me. 

Fear gripped me and a shot of adrenaline coursed through my veins. I thought I’d nonchalantly speed up and try and make a turn, hoping the police officer wouldn’t see my expired tags. He noticed my unusual acceleration and those daunting blue and red flashing lights lite up behind me for the last time. 

I knew it was over. 

I pulled over on the quiet back street and instantly started chain smoking cigarettes, I knew inwardly I was going to jail and there’s no smoking in that cement cage. But it was as if time immediately reached a slow crawl and I knew it was best for me to surrender. 

I had had enough, I was done. As the officer approached the window I was already waving the white flag. Before he could ask for my license, registration, and insurance (I knew the drill all to well) I had my mind made up. He came to window and I handed him my license and said, “Here you go. I have no license, registration, or insurance and I have a handful of warrants.” 

He looked at me and said, “Ok, just wait here and sit tight.” As another squad car pulled on the scene it was as if time stood still. My mind entered a moment of clarity. 

I thought to myself, “I’m heading to my parents to get help, I’m completely defeated, I’m beyond tired, and I’m out of options...God, help me.” The length of my prayer didn’t rouse God’s heart, nor did the eloquence of it. It was the posture of my heart that moved God’s heart. I was honest, and I was sincere. I couldn’t do it anymore, I surrendered. 

——————

Almost 10yrs into this glorious freedom I can look back now and see that that moment caused a tectonic shift in my spiritual reality. Within days God began doing for me what I could not do for myself and He wiped my legal slate clean. Grace launched me into the life I dreamed of, but couldn’t grasp.

Giving up control, gave me control. Grace runs the show now. The same life awaits you.

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Ohio’s Growing Problem - 3min read

Ohioans, we are in VERY REAL DANGER of losing an entire generation to addiction.

“Ohio children are entering foster care at a rate never before seen, hitting 16,154 in 2018, an increase of 3,500 — or 28 percent — in five years...the number of children entering foster care has exploded — another financial and human cost of the opioid epidemic, according to a new report.” -The Columbus Dispatch

The deadly effects of the “opioid crisis” is not new news in Ohio. For years running Ohio has been one of the worst states in the country for the number of overdose deaths per year. Currently, Ohio averages around 14 deaths a day from a drug overdose.

But the ramifications and ripple effects are slowly pulling much of a generation into the mess of addiction and the chaos it unleashes. For years I’ve been working with people that struggle with addiction and helping them live the life they are truly desiring, but more help is needed.

Imagine a child living in the same dirty diapers for days while home alone or even worse having to watch their parents do drugs in front of them, and all the insanity that that life entails. Imagine a child not eating while their parents spend the money on drug addiction. All the neglect, abuse, and unbelievably terrible things that come with that are literally ravaging thousands of defenseless children.

“One out of every four Ohio caseworkers quit in 2016 and 2017....a 2018 study found that more than half of Ohio’s children-services workers have high enough stress levels to meet the diagnostic threshold for post-traumatic stress disorder.” -The Columbus Dispatch

A common theme amongst the people I’ve worked with that struggle with addiction is the fact that they were exposed to addiction in their immediate family.

Ohioans, we can no longer pawn this horrific plague of drug addiction off on the police, courts, and treatment centers. It’s all hands on deck. We must involve ourselves in the mess and fill the cracks that people are falling through into the abyss of death with love and hope.

The law and professionals are doing their best, the missing piece is the average citizen that lives next door to the families and individuals that have been devastated by the scars of addiction.

It’s messy, at this point there is no way around that. But the longer we push the death, loss, and destruction that addiction has birthed in Ohio off on the next generation the harder it gets to see the change we are all desiring. Now, now it’s the time to start where you can and begin loving the people within your reach more intentionally. An entire generation is crying out for us, us, to step up and be the people that said, “Enough is enough. This ends on my watch!”

Cross the Bridge - 6min video

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The Columbus Dispatch Article

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4 Tips For Staying Clean and Sober This Christmas Season

Holidays are a beautiful time. Family, dinner party’s, and giving are a fulfilling theme. But for some people, especially people in early recovery, holidays can trigger some rough memories and feelings.

If this is you, know that you are not alone.

I recall blurry holidays filled with inebriated episodes of self-centered chaos. My thirteen years of active addiction were layered with empty and depressed Christmas seasons. Whether I was surrounded with my family that loved me or willingly isolating myself while consuming whatever substances I could get my hands on, I was empty and alone and at times even questioning if living was worth it.

Now I’m almost ten years into freedom from addiction and the holidays are filled with fun, family, and joyous gatherings. If you’re not there yet in your recovery, don’t worry, it gets easier.

I can now go to parties with people drinking and not have a second thought or be even remotely triggered. The same reality is available for you, but for now here are some simple and practical tips to remaining free and victorious the next couple weeks.


1- Stay Connected to God

God understands, and God wants your Christmas season to be special even more then you do. The power needed to remain strong this time of year is fully available. Your part is time in prayer and believing you are loved.

We all need downtime, but are we isolating or relaxing?

Isolation can position you to stew in some dangerous mindsets. PICK UP THE PHONE! Call someone else in recovery, they want to help.

It is vital in recovery to learn to do the right thing whether you feel like it or not. It’s easy to do the right thing when you feel like it. Real change and recovery take place when you learn to do what you know you should do even if you don’t exactly feel like doing it.


2- Go to meetings, and/or be around people that understand what you’re going through.

12 Step meetings are filled with people who understand the madness that can sometimes go on in the mind of an addict, especially in early recovery. Don’t wait for everything to be the way we think it should be. Pick up the phone and call someone, being intentionally and reachimg out to people that you can talk with can feel like a huge load is removed from you.

My first year of recovery I lived with people who had significant clean time, I went to an average of 2 meetings a day, and I went out of my way to help people that were new in recovery. Early on, my life depended upon this.


3- Think Solution, Not Problem

What you dwell on in your thinking you grant permission to play out through your actions. Often times the list of good things happening in your life is much longer than the list of problems. Which are you focusing on? The good, or the bad?

If you are facing some serious problems, it’s common in early recovery, all you have to do is know the next step you need to take. All you can do is your part, and let God do for you what you can’t do for yourself. If you’re having trouble seeing and believing it, be around someone that will believe for you and encourage you into your own victory.

Writing a gratitude list can also be extremely helpful.


4- GIVE

Something amazing happens when you freely give away what was freely given to you. The idea that you give to gain makes no sense to the person that hasn’t made this paradoxical paradise part of their daily lifestyle. You may feel like you have nothing of substance to give. But I promise you that no matter where you are at in your recovery, there is someone struggling worse than you and you have hope to give them.

Think spontaneous and practical. What are your talents? Where can you freely give your talents to help others? Maybe you have money to give, send some money to someone that you know needs it.

Maybe you have time to give. Find a soup kitchen, or homeless shelter and ask if you can donate your time to help.

Maybe someone you know needs a ride somewhere, and the list could go on. Getting outside yourself and helping brighten someone else’s Christmas season will paradoxical brighten your as well.

Merry Christmas!!

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