Please Know...

As I come to know these fine people, they share with me more of their personal and sensitive stories. Their collective story is what I am trying to share with you as my way of breaking the stereotypical beliefs that exist. "Blog names" have occasionally been given to me by the person whose story I am telling. Names are never their actual names and wherever I can do so, I might use the opposite pronoun (his/her, etc.) just to help increase their privacy.

Monday, February 17, 2020

This is true... Yes. This is True... No.

I found this statement at
"The Addicts Diary."

This is true... Yes.

This is True... No.

The "Yes" part is sort of obvious.

The "No" the part is not.

My friends died from their use of heroin or whatever else was in that (intended) insulin syringe. How many times did each of these human beings seek treatment within their required process of receiving health care as outlined by the Medicaid system?

How many times did they go to that Medicaid required crisis center only to leave after double-digit hours of waiting in desperate dope sickness and find their own healing by way of one little blue bag?

How many times did my friend get discharged from jail with no follow-up services set up and move to an abandoned house and die in solo medicine consumption since his community under that bridge had been eliminated?

She was fortunate enough to have a judge who truly cared and did his best for her.  Why didn't the Medicaid level detox/rehab assure that patients around her were not taking their "medicine" IN the state-licensed facility?  In the name of truly wanting to find healing, she left the poison of that environment and, in the absence of support was overcome with the temptations that come with Substance Use Disorder and life on the streets and died behind a closed door in an abandoned house since she had no bridge community upon which to return.

And now you know:

Heroin and the Medicaid system of health care killed my friends.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Always Read the Fine Print!

the City[2] 
of Brotherly Love[3],

[1] Philadelphia:

·         Philia is the type of intimate non-sexual love most people practice toward each other. This Greek term describes the powerful emotional bond seen in deep friendships.  It conveys a strong feeling of attraction.

·         Delphia: a girl's name meaning "the womb"

o   Womb: a place where something is conceived and nurtured and that offers protection and shelter.

o   Conceived: to form an idea or concept of something in your mind… to think up something such as a plan or an invention that could be put into action… to produce something from the mind such as an emotion

o   Nurtured: to give tender care and protection to a young child, animal, or plant, helping it to grow and develop… to encourage somebody or something to grow, develop, thrive, and be successful

o   Protection: the act of preventing somebody or something from being harmed or damaged, or the state of being kept safe

o   Shelter: a structure or building that provides cover from weather or protection against danger… an establishment providing temporary accommodations and food for people in need or without a home

·         Philadelphia: The birthplace within our nation conceived and intended to nurture protection and shelter and so much more in a spirit of deep friendship and attraction.

[2] City: an urban area where a large number of people live and work

[3] Brothery Love: showing feelings that a brother might be expected to have toward his sibling

[4] Evicted: to force somebody to leave a place

[5] Homeless: persons without a place or home of any kind

[6] People: human beings considered collectively or in general

Human Beings: inspirational and made in the image of God… worthy of dignity, honor, respect, and love.


Monday, January 6, 2020

Determine To Try

When it comes to boxing, I'm thankful to Jerry Lewis for providing this perfect impersonation nine years before I was born of me being a boxer in a boxing ring.

This past Christmas, as she sat in my car, Rose asked me to close my eyes.  I did so.  She reached around my neck and clasped a man's boxing glove pendant necklace on me.  As she did so, she said "Thanks, 'Dad' for fighting for me."

A couple days later, a coworker at Recovery Centers of America in Devon and I were discussing Kensington as he remembered it from his childhood days and growing up there.  He reminded me of how "Rocky" was filmed in many locations around there.  As a Jerry Lewis-style boxer myself, I think I had repressed those thoughts of a Rocky-style boxer having filmed some silly inconsequential movie series[1] in my area of attempted service.

A couple days after this conversation with my co-worker, I had professional interaction with a man bearing the name of a famous boxer from somewhere in our nation's history.[2]

Why is my decade starting with a boxing theme?

I've come to love the men and women who find themselves living on the streets of Kensington due to being in their addicted phase of Substance Use Disorder.  Theirs/Yours is a boxing match like no other.  By her Savior's planned journey for Rose, she introduced this boxing theme to me.  My co-worker fine-tuned it and now I introduce it to you…

Rocky and You: an inspirational human being made in the image of God who is worthy of dignity, honor, respect and love and who carries the diagnosis of and dealing with the consequences of Substance Use Disorder.

You are in a boxing match!  The national champion of death and destruction whose name is "Substance Use Disorder" is devouring thousands of its opponents each and every year.  Thousands of people are permanently "knocked out" with Substance Use Disorder's world-famous death punch.  Other boxing opponents of Substance Use Disorder, First responders, and others step in as referees to administer Narcan and save hundreds of Substance Use Disorder's opponents. From Substance Use Disorder's perspective, you are just one more ready to be permanently knocked out by this seemingly unstoppable presence in your life.

Rocky was an insignificant bro on the streets of Kensington.  He loved little animals and he had his eye on a homely pet shop employee named Adrienne.  He tried to make a living by boxing and extracting money from people who owed others. 

One day, an odd set of circumstances rolled his direction and he found himself being offered the opportunity to box with the current national boxing champion.  Lots of self-doubts convinced him that he could not do it.  Adrienne, now his girlfriend, always stuck by him while allowing him to make the decisions for his life.  When he doubted, she didn't disagree.  She supported his thinking process. 

One day, Rocky decided it was time to train his body and prepare to box this national champion.  He wakes up early on this morning of decision, drinks six raw eggs steps out his front door, stretches and sets off on his first run in training to box the national champion.  He had no idea whether he could or could not beat this internationally known opponent but he decided to try.

As he steps out of the door of his rented home and starts to run down his home street, it's dark and dingy.  No one notices.  He just starts to run all by himself.  As he runs, light begins to shine.  In time, he makes that famous run up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum.

Between that first run out of his rented home and that run up the steps, he pounds on punching bags, raw meat and an occasional actual human opponent in a boxing match. 

If you so choose, in your training for taking on your opponent, the national champion of death and destruction, "Substance Use Disorder", through professional counseling, you will (metaphorically) punch the stuffing out of a punching bag as you recall the heartbreaks and violations of so many against your soul.  You will beat the tar out of raw meat as you recall your biological father refering to you as such as he had his way with you.

If you so choose, when "Substance Use Disorder," this national champion of death and destruction, tries to box you back into relapse, through the training that you've done thus far and with the support of trusted friends, you will beat your living opponent into submission as you refuse to be defeated in your conquest toward your new life.

Since the closing of Emerald City about a year ago, I've been focusing my visiting efforts in the area of Kensington Avenue and Somerset Street.  I often park on Ruth Street at Somerset Street.[3]  Whenever I park on Ruth Street, when it's time to leave, I drive to the end of the block and turn right.  I've noticed this house on the end of the block that has a large open field next to it.  I've often thought that if I ever moved to Kensington, I would like to live in that house.  It's close to the action and has enough open space to satisfy my soul.  As it turns out, this house that I've admired for the past year is Rocky's rented home.  The people who I visit, some of whom read these blogs, can be found living on the street on the opposite side of this same square block.

In this movie written by and starring Sylvester Stallone, he determines to try to defeat his opponent.  He leaves his rented home at 1818 Tusculum Street and jogs unnoticed into the darkness.  When he gets to Kensington Avenue, he turns right and then out of camera view.  This first run would have taken him right through the east coast center of what is now Substance Use Disorder's boxing ring, the intersection of Kensington and Somerset.

Rocky made his decision on Tusculum Street to try to beat his opponent as he was living in his rented home.  I encourage all of you who know this boxing ring to consider taking the challenge of setting off on your training.  Rocky did not know when he ran down Tusculum if he would succeed but he determined to try.  It will be hard and you can do it!   You can determine to try.

[2] I'm keeping that very vague for privacy reasons.  It was not the actual famous boxer.
[3] The people I've come to know and love know these streets very well as these streets have become their grass roots safe injection site. 

Thursday, December 26, 2019

I Pray You A Mary Christmas

A Message from "Banana Man"
Chris Battin
Rather than handing out my song sheet during my Christmas visits, I prepared the following letter which seems to have been well received.  Here is a link to the original handout.

The Birth of Jesus

Luke 2:2-20
At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child. 

6 And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger because there was no lodging available for them.

The Shepherds and Angels

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior[1]—yes, the Messiah[2], the Lord[3]—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others-the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,
    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger[4]. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

Dear Friends,                                 

I see you in this Bible reading. 

Do you see the star above?  Read those bold words carefully:  And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born.    She gave birth to her firstborn son.

"The time came
for her baby to be born."

That means that her body decided it was time for the birth of her son.  Her body had done its part in creating, forming and protecting him. 

Between those two lines:

The time came… & …She gave birth

Mary endured a lot of physical pain and discomfort.  If you're a lady who has given birth, you know this first hand.  Even if it was made less intense by medical help, you didn't have a choice but to go through some pain and discomfort.  Guys, if you're a Dad, your lady endured a lot of pain and discomfort so as to give birth to that new life.  If you're not a parent, you can know that the woman who birthed you endured pain and discomfort so as to bring you into this world.  

Your body or that of your lady or Mom decided the time had come to go through the pain and discomfort and give birth to a new life.

With the birth of her Son, Mary would have all but forgotten the pain and discomfort of childbirth.  She may have forgiven the misery and been thankful that it was over.  She would have looked into the eyes of her Son, this new life in her arms, and decided that for as rough as it may have been, enduring the pain and discomfort was worth it.  

Be Mary.
There's a new life inside of you waiting to be born.  To give birth to your new life, even with medical help, you must endure some amount of pain and discomfort.  When you are ready, I encourage you to see the pain and discomfort of detox and withdrawal as the labor pains preceding the birth of your new life.  Upon the successful delivery of your new life, your pain will be all but forgotten.  Like Mary as she raised her son, you will raise your new you.

Mary's body decided it was time to give birth to this new life.  It was not her decision as to when this would happen.  It is your decision as to when to go through your pain and discomfort and give birth to your new life.

You've heard it said that you must hit "rock bottom" before your moment of decision comes.  Mary went through her pain and discomfort so as to give birth to your Rock.  You do not have to wait for the circumstances of your life to take you to that rock bottom moment of decision.  You can call out to Jesus, The Son of Mary, The Son of God, The Rock, to be your Rock to bear your pain and discomfort while you give birth to your new you. 

In the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.

Thank you for being you!  You are very much loved in the Name of Jesus, the Son of Mary, The Son of God, Your Rock if you so choose, whose birth we celebrate!


Romans 10:9-10 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

[1] somebody who rescues somebody or something from harm or danger
[2] in Christianity, Jesus Christ regarded as the Messiah prophesied in the Hebrew Bible
[3] in Christianity, God or Jesus Christ
[4] a trough from which livestock eat

Saturday, December 21, 2019

My Christmas Letter to "Diane"

Dear Diane,
I only knew you for a couple of years as you lived inside your naturally raspy-voiced elegant pure gold and fine porcelain container.  From day one, your inner spirit, overflowing with the Love of your LORD and Savior shined bright within the environment in which we first met.  You quickly became the inner portion of my inner circle of friends who allowed me into their lives in that sad setting.  Even in your hardest and most challenging days, your Faith-In-Christ Filled Spirit Burned Bright.

Diane, I only knew you for a couple of years.  I cannot begin to know the pain of missing you that your Mom, Dad, Sisters, Step Dad, Aunts, Cousins, further extended family and most of all those two precious living memorials to whom you gave birth, as well as your best friend and co-creator thereof, are going through.

Diane, I do thank you for your final letter to me that you wrote ten days before you went Home and arrived to me three days after you arrived Home.  

Not that I needed to know it but with this statement in your own writing, I and all who love you can know beyond the shadow of any doubt that you are alive and well in a way that none of us can fully understand. 

Help us LORD and help us Diane to follow Christ's Ways of doing life on this earth so that one day, we can all be together again in HIS, YOUR and in each other's presence.  In Jesus' Holy Name I pray.  Amen.

In the meantime Diane, we cry for your absence from us and experience our saddest ever of Christmases.  However, in knowing that you are with your LORD for the first time in your never-ending eternal eternity celebrating His birth in His actual and factual presence, we can know Joy upon Joy for you our dear Mommy, daughter, sister, niece, cousin, lover, all other manners of relationship plus friend.

And so, Diane, I thank you for being exactly who you were on earth and who you are in Eternity and I humbly gift to you the following which seems to sum up all I'm trying to say…

Your temporarily heartbroken and eternally Joy-Filled friend,


Thursday, December 19, 2019

"A" is "A."

Time and time again, I hear well-meaning people in various aspects of service to men and women from the street make comments such as:

They lie.
They are thieves.
They are con artists.
They say one thing to your face but don't follow up with their actions.
They can't be counted on.
They are disorganized.
They are unreliable.
They don't really want healing.
They can't be trusted.

They may carry names such as B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, and Z. 


"A" now lays on your cot in your E.R. injured or ill or recently overdosed.
"A" is your client in need of food or clothes or housing or hug or handshake.
"A" wants to feel welcome in your place of worship.
"A" says they want help.
"A" needs the professional guidance and support that you can provide.
"A" states that they don't ever want to go back to drugs and the streets.
"A" plans to never do another "date."
"A" wants to learn a new trade.
"A" wants to go back to school.
"A" wants to be back in relationship with his/her children.
"A" wants to hug their parent before that parent's new diagnosis claims them.
"A" wants…
"A" needs…
"A" hopes…
"A" dreams…

Did B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, or Z let you down in some way as you've interacted with them?  Yes?  That is disappointing.

Make it just that: a disappointment in that situation with B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, or Z.

Don't make disappointment your expectation for your interaction with "A".

"A" is not B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, nor Z.

"A" is "A."

"Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is.
Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be."
- Stephen R. Covey

"If you treat "A" as you feel they are,
They will live down to your expectations.

If you treat "A" as you feel they can be,
They will live up to your expectations.
- Paraphrased by Chris Battin from Stephen R. Covey

"A" is "A."