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No Where Else To Go, But Jesus

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
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January 1, 2021 1:00 am

No Where Else To Go, But Jesus

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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January 1, 2021 1:00 am

How do you keep walking forward, when all hope seems gone? Join hosts Dave and Ann Wilson on FamilyLife Today to hear the dramatic story of Katherine James as she recalls how the Lord walked alongside her during the dark days of her son's drug addiction.

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When Catherine James' son started experimenting with drugs while he was in high school, Catherine was alarmed because she knew about his addictive personality. So the first overdose was just one of those things where all of these things had to happen for him to have lived. And he did, but he went into septic shock. He was on life support for three or four days. And the doctor actually said that this was the worst overdose he'd ever seen, which kind of was like, what do you mean?

And that's when my faith was like shaken to its core. This is Family Life Today. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson.

I'm Bob Lapine. You can find us online at So what do we do as parents if a child's substance abuse has gotten completely out of control and become life-threatening? How do we respond? Talk with Catherine James about that today. Stay with us. And welcome to Family Life Today.

Thanks for joining us. I have to think that we have some parents listening this week who are hearing the story that we're sharing and going, that's our story. We've had the same thing happen. Maybe it's happening now and you're anxious and you're fearful and you want to be wise and you want to do anything and everything you can to keep a child from dangerous, destructive behavior. And yet there's no guarantee that there's anything you can do. I mean, I've walked with parents who have had kids.

You guys have too. Parents who have had kids in the middle of drug addiction where they put them in programs, the kids go through the programs, they come out, they lapse back over and over again. And the parents are at their wits end going, we'd do anything to stop this. And if we knew the magic words, we'd tell you the magic words. But in some cases, there just aren't any magic words. And I think parents are looking for hope and they'd love to have a quick fix. You know, like I talked to so many parents who think God could do this.

He could miraculously change things and heal my son or daughter with a spoken word. But it doesn't always happen like that. It does sometimes happen like that, but most of the time it seems like there's a process. I'm glad we're talking about it because so often the church is silent and quiet and afraid. And so this program is really going to be helpful to a lot of people and you need to share it with people. Yeah. Catherine James is joining us this week on Family Life Today. Welcome back.

Thanks. Catherine is a mom. She's a writer. She is a fellow staff member with us on the staff of CREW.

And she's written a book called A Prayer for Orion, which is a, as I said, it's a memoir that no mom ever wants to have to write. It's about your youngest son. It began as kind of dabbling with what kids were dabbling with in middle school, which was smoking weed. And you learned about it. You confronted him. You thought maybe the behavior had self-corrected. And then you started to find evidence.

You found a homemade bong hidden in the insulation in the crawl space outside of his room. And it was back to another confrontation and more grounding. And I'm sure you and your husband were wondering what can we do?

Is there something we can do that will bring this behavior to an end? Yeah. I'm interested in the title. When I first read it, I thought Orion was your son. Why a prayer for Orion? Well, during this time, one of the most powerful things I feel like God taught me was just basically the power of prayer.

And so I began praying just constantly. And so did my husband. And we have this huge bay window in the front of our house. And if you look up in like around January, you can see the constellation Orion and the belt of Orion. And basically it has three stars right in a row.

And we have three kids. And I used to sort of use the stars as kind of naming our children as I prayed for each one. And so that's kind of where it began. It was sort of a working title to begin with and then ended up using it.

So. I don't know if I've ever read an opening paragraph quite like this, because obviously, as Bob has walked us through, started with Smoke and Weed, but it went beyond that. I just thought, man, when I read this, I'm like, first of all, you know, we're an author and we can't write anything like this. This is genius. This is beautiful. This is creative. And what a way to introduce the reader to this story. So it's OK if I read it? Yeah. Chapter title.

Sick. They say that when you tie a rubber tube around an upper arm, you feel the love the way a river feels a rock, a swish up and over or around. The river tightens and narrows. The wake behind it shoots out water like the universe shoots out stars. But the gritty fog of sediment tells the whole story.

The needle goes in rubber tube, pull it tight, flatten the arm, needle. So you introduced to the reader, we don't know yet, but like, what in the world is this about? And so obviously your son went from weed to harder drugs. So tell us about that journey.

Yeah. Well, most of you probably heard about the opiate epidemic, which has just gotten worse and worse. And goodness, I don't know how many lives now, but like in 2017, something like 70,000 lives were lost. Opiate overdoses and actually COVID has increased that amount.

Of course, we're not talking about it that much because there are other things going on in the news, but it is awful. And so one of the things that high school kids have started doing is just basically popping pills from their parents' medicine cabinets. And sometimes that will be opiate painkillers and that sort of thing.

So they're very easy to access. And there's also, you know, other things that at parties they're tossing around like mollies. And, you know, there's all the psychedelic drugs, acid and that sort of thing.

And in certain groups, it's really very, very normal to do this. You know, pills are sort of seen as not being all that dangerous, really. And so for a kid like my son, as I talked about before, he really does have an addictive personality. And so somebody like him who takes a pill, it turns into I need another one, you know, somebody else.

It's like, oh, that was kind of interesting. And they go home. So it started with weed and then who knows how it escalated into something far worse. We loved his friends. They were great. We ended up with a lot of the kids that he was hanging out with and our girls are hanging out with in our home because they would come for Bible studies. And we talked to them and some of them came to Christ and started growing and they're just doing wonderful, most of them.

But at the same point, there were other kids that our son was hanging out with who were doing these things, you know. And so we don't know exactly how it started or what pills they were taking or what have you, that kind of thing. But ultimately, I guess he started taking like a Percocet or that sort of thing. And they can be prescribed from, you know, doctors for pain and you get it from, say, your grandmother's medicine cabinet. And those are, you know, the oxycodone, that kind of thing.

But if they get it on the street, you don't know what they're made up of. And so even pills, this is actually something I didn't learn until recently, even pills on the street can have something called fentanyl in them. And fentanyl is what is responsible for a lot of the overdose deaths.

It's very strong, 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin. So what happens is the pills, harder to get, more expensive, so they start going to heroin on the street, which is much, much cheaper. And then sometimes the heroin is laced with fentanyl. Well, I was shocked in the book that you even said some of the dealers will put so much fentanyl or another substance in the drug that if someone overdoses or dies, it gives them a good reputation? Like, what is that?

Yeah, it gets darker and darker and darker, and it's shocking. A dealer, what happens with heroin is they're in these little cellophane sort of little packets, they're tiny. And on the packets, they'll stamp their particular brand, you know. So say you start, you know, producing heroin or whatever in these little packets, you're going to stamp it with your name, something like that, or you'll name it something, Mickey Mouse, whatever.

And so they'll know it's coming from you. And so if you include in your batch for that week some fentanyl or something particularly strong in them and a couple people overdose and die or just overdose, people know that that's a good batch, so they'll go to you for the rest of it. It's a horrible thing, but it sells.

They make more money that way. So, yeah, a couple intentional overdoses are worth, you know, selling enough bags to make thousands of dollars. Can you imagine that you ever thought that you would know about this? I know, right? Yeah. Yeah, it's just a whole world. And, you know, with the opiate epidemic going on, it was just like, wow, it just kind of blew my mind how bad it was.

You know, back when I was growing up, it was just like the city, you know, a little like maybe a couple of streets that have this stuff. Now, is your reaction any different? You know, you told us earlier that when you caught him with weed, now it's heroin.

Is it a different reaction for you or? Yeah, that was the mother of all drugs. Well, and how did you catch him? How did you know he'd use it?

Yeah, you know what? It's all so complicated in this situation. His friends actually said, you need to tell your parents that you're doing heroin. And so he sat down next to us and he told us and he cried. He said, I'm doing heroin. Why would his friends tell them to tell you guys?

And these are friends that are hanging out at your house. Is that right? Yeah, they had come to Christ. And so they really cared for him and they were worried about him.

And I don't think any of them were into the really hard drugs. Somehow he had gotten in. Like I said before, he's an addictive kid and we knew that he was going to go in that direction and he did. So once he told us, you know, my first reaction was, you know, you're going to rehab. Because to me at that point we haven't, you know, that's what you do.

You go to rehab, which oftentimes you should. But, you know, Rick was able to see things a little clearer at that point because he knew that our son, because of who he is and we know, as we know, every kid is different, that he would just run and that he wouldn't stay because of his anxiety issues. So mostly, you know, what we told him, I don't remember as far as, you know, what he was able to do and not able to do, but we tested him constantly. Like every day I got the tests that tested for every possible drug he could take. And then I tested him. So he was saying, I want help and I'll get tested.

I want you to help me with this. Yes, yes. And his friends were encouraging that. And again, I'm guessing you're thinking, okay, as long as we're testing him and he wants help, then we're going to win this battle. But that's not exactly the direction I went. No, because of the physical addiction.

You know, I think that psychologically many addicts, most addicts want out, but it's a physical thing. And so at that point I don't think we realized, you know, once you admit that you have a problem and you want out, that's not necessarily the end of it. That's a long struggle. And so once we started testing him, there was some peace in that. Obviously this was hard throughout it for my husband and me. So at that point we just started testing him every day. You know, you're praying, you're looking up even in a beautiful way at the sky and you're talking to God about your son, not for days or weeks, years, right?

So how'd that go? Because it doesn't seem like he's hearing or answering your prayer. Yeah, oh boy. You know, when you go through these difficult times, everything becomes more alive. You just are awake and sensitive to the Holy Spirit and what's happening around you because you're desperate, because you're constantly in prayer. So what happened is we would get little encouragements here and there, kind of like God reminding us, yep, I'm here, I'm here. Even though, you know, for all intents and purposes, he seemed like it was nowhere.

What kind of things, Katherine? Talk about it a little bit in the book, but there were supernatural things that happened. This was after our son had a very serious overdose and we didn't know if he was going to make it or not. So my husband and I were trading places at the hospital and he was at home in our dining room just praying, praying, praying, praying. And he just saw out the window this man in a very white shirt. And it was one of those strange things where- At night.

Yeah, just a really white shirt. And he was looking up at sweet boy's window, his bedroom window. And then, you know, it took a moment and it kind of, the man, I guess, kept walking. And originally Rick thought, that must be Neil, our daughter's husband. And then he thought, wait a second, Neil's in D.C., there's no way that can be Neil.

And it wasn't. And then at that point, Rick realized that it had to be an angel. There really wasn't any other option and he was praying so intently, intensely that that's just kind of what he realized. And, you know, it's one of those things that was so private he didn't even tell me for months about it.

Oh, really? Yeah, I thought that was almost strange. But it encouraged you that God's hearing your prayers.

Very much. And it was like that everything was so intense, good and bad. Like we saw the evil and we saw the good and we saw God's hand and, you know, verses and here and there where you just knew God was involved.

And that doesn't mean we always felt like excited or, oh, we're encouraged. It just needed to be there because that was our rock, you know. You started a prayer group at church?

Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, I did. For people who were battling with addictions? Yes, it was for, mostly it was parents, people who love people who are battling for addictions. You know, some were in prison and some were still living at home, older kids, younger kids, all sorts of things.

And, you know, once you kind of let the word out, it was just such a need. And in the same way, as we began to pray, we saw things happening in these kids' lives that were pretty amazing. And as of today, none of them died. The fact that they're all alive, if you understand the culture and you understand what's going on is a miracle that they're all living. So pray, pray, pray. There isn't any other sure thing, you know. You can try to do all the right things. It's very important to get wisdom from other parents and read things and all of that. Very, very important.

And do your research. But at the same time, the only thing that's for sure is prayer and that this isn't just out of the blue. You know, there's nothing random about this. Had the people that attended your group prayer at church, had they been in anything like that in the past? Was this something new at your church? Yes. Yeah, I started in our church.

But we had people coming from other churches as well or other places where, you know, throughout the Philadelphia area. And you mentioned that he didn't just overdose once. You know, and sometimes, you know, you read that and you're like, oh, he died. But he overdosed and did several times? He did.

Yeah. So the first overdose was just one of those things where I think I talk about it in the book where all of these things had to happen for him to have lived. And he did. But he was in the ICU. He was on life support for three or four days. And he, you know, we prayed.

All of, you know, the whole waiting room was just filled with mostly his friends who had come to Christ or walking with God. And little by little things started to happen with his body. He needed to get his blood pressure up. He went into septic shock.

So the doctor actually said that this was the worst overdose that he'd seen where anybody actually lived through it. And then one year later, I was knocking on his door in the morning to wake him up and he wasn't answering it. My husband came and kicked it in and he was blue. So at that point, my husband ran towards him and I ran away from him.

Just the different kind of impulses that we had. So he's trying to revive him and I just leave. I think I was just terrified. I didn't want to see him.

It was so scary because I did see him when the door came down and I saw his blue face. And I didn't want to see any more. I immediately called 911, but at the same point, I'm like physically just like melting.

You know, my knees are just completely giving way. And all I could think was, because things had been going really well before that. And I'd been thanking God for how well he was doing. And so at that point, all I could think is, are you real?

God, I've been thanking you this whole time. And then this, you know, what is going on? How could you possibly let this happen? And that's when my faith was like shaken to its core.

And it was going to either disappear or grow stronger. And this is an amazing thing that God did. At that very moment, Rick came over to me as the paramedics were going up the stairs, I guess. And he said, don't worry, I'll believe for you.

And that might not make any sense. But at the time it was, I was like, okay, God, so you're going to even get me through this. How long did that period last in your faith journey? It's kind of like you stumble and you just stand up again and keep walking. Maybe a little bit like a zombie, but I'm walking. Sort of have to.

Yeah, you have to. I didn't have anywhere else to go. And I knew enough to know that, that I don't have any place else to go except to Jesus.

In some ways, Rick was your rock in that moment. Was there ever a time where his faith? There was a time when his sorrow was so awful that I really had to kind of carry him.

I don't know about him questioning his faith. Probably, it was probably mixed up with that sorrow. But thankfully, I think the Lord kind of worked things so that it was my times of great need. And I couldn't do it anymore.

You know, Rick was strong enough to do it and vice versa. So thankfully, I don't think there was ever this place where we were completely both at that. After that second overdose, were you afraid to be hopeful again? Yes, yes, I was afraid to be hopeful again after that. What's that look like walking through those days forward?

It's probably like, he seems better, but is he? Are you always getting ready for the next thing? One of the things that kind of became a revelation for me was that my if onlys became even ifs. So my if onlys that I've been struggling since day one were if only I'd done this differently or we'd done this differently. If only we'd seen things earlier, if only we'd been harder on him or whatever it was, which was doing nothing except kind of polluting my prayer life, turned into a even if. It's kind of like Jesus is at Gethsemane, you know, please take this from me, but not my will but yours. And so I was able to come to Christ, to Jesus and say, even if our son dies, it will be the most painful thing I'll ever go through, but even if our son dies, I'm okay. Heaven's okay. I'm going to be good.

That's huge. And it was amazing. It just relieved all of the fear. I wasn't afraid anymore. It was okay. You know, it was okay.

I knew it would be hard, but it was okay. And once you're not afraid of the worst thing you can imagine, I mean, the freedom that comes is wonderful and the sense of peace. And you are walking with God at that point. You're not just kind of, all right, if that's what you want, I'll do it or whatever.

Your will be done. But no, it was like, you're going to take care of me in ways that I could never imagine if the worst happens. And so it very much was kind of a Gethsemane experience or even, you know, like Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah. It seems like that's a point as parents that we all need to come to. You know, it's like a surrendering of everything of our kids. And that's a hard thing to do because it's releasing your child to God, whether they have an addiction, whether they walked away from God, wherever they are in life. But that's a hard place to come to. Is that the place you'd encourage parents to get to? I would. And yet.

Hands down. You didn't get there overnight. Did not get there overnight.

Very hard to get to. But if you're struggling right now in that place of just complete uncertainty and fear and you don't know what's going to happen and then there's tumult at home or whatever, that is the place you want to get to. And, you know, get there by prayer, constant, constant prayer.

And, you know, read scripture like Hebrews 11 is great, you know, talking about the faith. And some people didn't didn't experience the answers to their prayers in the very end. But they knew that a better future was coming for them. His second time in the hospital was a turning point of sorts, wasn't it? Yeah, yeah. And you started to see things get better to the point that you started to have hope again.

Yeah. What were you seeing? It was just such a gradual thing and with that gradual thing, my fear about something happening kind of loosened up a bit. He got jobs that he held down well, you know, he'd tell us things. He got a little bit more open about what was going on.

He said somebody had come into where he was working and offered him pills and he was mad at the guy because he knew the guy knew that he was trying not to use. So things like that. You know, it's interesting, we always wanted and expected him to have this miraculous spiritual like awakening and start leading Bible studies with his dad. You know, things like that, that this is how it works for the Christian. You know, they all of a sudden discover this beautiful life and then everything's perfect. And it wasn't all like that was very, very slow.

He's still very internal person, but his heart's good. And more than one time, I feel like God just kind of gave me the image of a turtle. But I was praying, finally kind of came to me, I should pray that like a turtle, he would always go slow, slow in the right direction. I don't care how slow it is, but always let him go in the right direction and never back.

Right. I was praying this as I was walking through a park one day. Got in my car, headed out, and I had to stop because this little turtle was literally walking on the road, you know, five feet in front of the car. And it was going so slow I had to pick it up and just carry it to the other side of the road. But things like that, you know, slowly you could tell things were headed in the right direction. Even now, though, there's always going to be a little bit of a fear there that something could happen.

But I do, I think that I've gotten to that place where my first reaction is to go back to even if, you know. Today, he's living independently. He's married. He's married, has a little baby girl. And as far as you know, substance use is a part of the past, not a part of the present.

No, he's doing really well, really, really well. He vapes. But, you know, it's like ten years ago, I'd be like, vaping, my son isn't going to vape. But now, of course, you look back and think, oh, Lord, you've done so much in his life and we're so thankful. And he works with my husband. And he's a good dad. He's doing great.

So thankful. And the story's not over. I talk to parents all the time who are in the middle of difficult situations with a prodigal, with somebody who's using whatever their circumstance is. And there's a broken heart in that conversation. There's also a sense of hopelessness. And I have to look at him and say, the story's not over.

We don't know what God's going to do. There's still hope. Keep crying out. Keep interceding. Keep pointing him in the right direction. Keep asking God for wisdom. Yeah, you're walking around the walls of Jericho. Not a single brick's fallen. I mean, you've got to be thinking, just give me at least a brick. He did.

He gave her a turtle. That's right. I mean, that is beautiful. But for some people, they need to realize, you don't know it, but this could be day six. And your prayers are being heard. Yes. Yes.

Please know that. And he had to know Mom was writing a book telling the story. He did. I asked if he wanted to vet it, and he took it to read. And he got through the first couple pages, and he said, I'm sorry, I can't read it. And I said, I'm so sorry I did that to you.

But he was okay. He signed off on you telling this story. And all of his friends who are in here as well.

I write about them. So everybody signed off. And now there are a lot of moms and dads and maybe a lot of addicts who are going to read this and get hope because of the story. Yeah.

Yeah. Thank you for writing it. Thank you. Thanks for coming here, and thanks for sharing your story. Thank you.

Thanks for your courage. We've got copies of Katherine's book, which is called A Prayer for Orion, a son's addiction and a mother's love. You can order it from us online at Again, our website,

You'll find additional resources there for parents whose kids have become involved with substance abuse, other books, articles, resources that we have available. Again, go to for more information. And if we can pray for you and your family, if you're going through this or any challenge, it would be a privilege to be able to pray for your family in the new year. So get in touch with us and let us know how we can be praying for you. And of course, today is the first day of 2021, and we're all praying that 2021 will be a different year, a better year than 2020 was.

2020 was challenging. It was hard for many of us, and yet God was with us and sustained us as he always does, and so we're grateful for that. We do want to say thank you to those of you who over the last 30 days have responded to the matching gift challenge that we had made available to us here at Family Life. We don't have the final total yet because many of you mailed in donations, and we're waiting for those donations to arrive to see if we did in fact take full advantage of that matching gift. So pray for that if you would, and thanks again to those of you who donated. Pray for us in the new year ahead as we look to be innovative and creative about how we can most effectively minister to marriages and to families, that God will open new doors as he has already been doing for us in so many ways. Just pray that 2021 will be a fruitful year of ministry for us here at Family Life.

And again, any time we can help you, please do get in touch with us and let us know. And we hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together in your local church this weekend, and I hope you can join us back on Monday when Dave and Ann Wilson are going to share with us about their engagement, about the very first weekend to remember marriage getaway that they ever went to back before they were married, and then about the first tumultuous months of marriage where eventually they looked at each other and said, we made a huge mistake. We'll hear that story Monday. Hope you can tune in for that. I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Bob Lapine. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Music Family Life Today is a production of Family Life of Little Rock, Arkansas, a crew ministry. Help for today, hope for tomorrow.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-08 23:30:27 / 2024-01-08 23:42:56 / 12

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