Blog Post: Encouragement in Recovery

Freedom Recovery Community is a very busy place this summer. We currently have 21 women and 22 children living on property full time and have 12 children who come for visitation. Most of the days are quiet as women are working and children are at day care or day camps. Their evenings are spent in family time outside or playing games, going to groups and much more. My favorite thing about our community is the way this group encourages each other. In order to reach all of the families we have a group text where we send reminders about group schedule, activities and chores on a weekly basis. The women also communicate to each other through the group text. Here are some examples of the recent texts that have been posted:

“Went to a really good 12-step meeting at a church tonight. Going back next Wednesday for anyone who wants to ride along.”

“Thank you for the fresh vegetables from the garden as we are having cucumbers and tomatoes for dinner!”

“Good girl! Change the Stigma!”

“You have some amazing and awesome kids who helped me carry in my groceries. You have no idea how much I needed that today!”

“So what’s next? You heal. You grow. And you help others.”

“Trying Celebrate Recovery tonight…who wants to go?”

“I have never led a meeting, but I am willing (to try) today.”

“I am so grateful for my sisters at FRC.”

The women at FRC are truly living out the scripture to “Encourage one another and build each other up” (Thessalonians 5:11) on a daily basis.

~ Kristy Pomeroy, Community Services Manager

Blog Post: Won’t You Be My Neighbor

Mark 12: 30-31 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Step 12:Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

If you haven’t had the opportunity to see, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor”, the documentary about the life and ministry of Mister Rogers, please go see this movie. I would suggest grabbing some tissue along with your popcorn and snacks. True to his legacy the video clips and interviews with people bring us right to the heart of our feelings. This movie is a reminder of the importance of practicing compassion and kindness. Mister Rogers taught children and adults that it is healthy to talk about your feelings and that no matter what happens in life each and every person is special.

A friend of Mister Rogers said, “Fred was often known to say, ‘When something is mentionable, it is manageable.’ Talking about life’s disappointments and heartaches through with someone you trust is so very important. Finding your voice is essential.”

I think Mister Rogers would be pleased with how The Next Door honors this faith principle of loving your neighbor as yourself. In our residential program our women are assigned to a neighborhood which allows them to build community. When life has taught you that trusting leads to pain and suffering it is difficult to learn to trust. Being a part of a neighborhood helps our women begin to learn how to build community and support which is essential to a healthy recovery program. The women have a chance to share a neighborhood where they start the day with prayer and meditation, watch TV and play games together, rest and work on assignments, and end their day together with a gratitude circle. This is a foundational piece to learning that it’s healthy to share feelings and it’s ok to break away from the guilt and shame of addiction and learn to laugh again.

Our Freedom Recovery Community offers affordable housing for 21 women and their children, but it offers so much more. It offers a chance to build community and support with women who are striving to have healthier lives for themselves and their children. It provides the opportunity for women to build trust and community and pass these principles on to their children. The women can share in their daily struggles and celebrations with one another. They have a safe place for their children to live and play. Mister Rogers had wisdom about the importance of children’s play, “When we treat children’s play as seriously as it deserves, we are helping them feel the joy that’s to be found in the creative spirit. It’s the things we play with and the people who help us play that make a great difference in our lives.” These principles of loving your neighbor and building a safe and healthy community will change the lives of these children and generations to come.

Our weekly Aftercare program is another place where we can witness the power of community and the gift of loving your neighbor. The Next Door offers weekly aftercare where our alumni have the opportunity to give and receive support. Aftercare helps in building relationships within the community and with others on a similar journey. It is the bridge which helps our women keep hold of the things they’ve learned and gained as they embark upon a new way of living and also offer those gifts to the next woman they meet.

Thank you Mister Rogers for teaching generations on how to be good neighbors. Thank you to the staff, volunteers, and women who work hard every day to create a safe and healthy neighborhood at The Next Door. So, go see “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” and maybe take a moment to hum or sing along.

“So let’s make the most of this beautiful day. Since we’re together, we might as well say, Would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won’t you be my neighbor?”

~ Carrie Fraser, Director of Clinical Support Services

Blog Post: Useless Information

Most of the recipients of The Next Door’s online newsletter will not know who I am.  And I am very comfortable with that because I will not know most of them either.  That seems to be the common denominator in America these days:  pretend to know more than you really do!  Truth be told, I made a New Year’s resolution for 2018 and that was to learn something new every day, even if it is useless so I could keep up with most of America.   Now I have let a few days slide, but I have learned something new most every day and as I anticipated, some of it is useless.

For example, I wanted to know why dogs turn in circles before lying down.  And the only conclusion that satisfied me was they couldn’t turn in squares.  I wanted to know why I couldn’t wear pants without an elastic waist.  The only conclusion I discovered was that elastic waist pants are the greatest invention in the world and I am fortunate enough to have a closet full of this great invention! I am only assuming that I have only scratched the surface of useless information out there to be learned!  But, I have discovered (again) some useful information that I have learned I don’t want to live without.  For instance, taking my wife her first cup of coffee in bed every morning – or almost every morning. Nothing starts out the day like a cup of coffee with an apology (pay attention guys!).  Not that I am in the doghouse a lot, but it never hurts to be proactive!  I like to think this is building up a credit to be used in case of an emergency.  I am always prepared!

But the greatest thing I have learned in 2018 is silence and solitude.  I do not fare well being by myself for prolonged periods of time.  But I needed to practice this spiritual discipline in order to see God.  Now I didn’t think I was missing Him mind you.  Being a pastor for 43 years one could think that pastors have 20/20 vision in the seeing God department!  Nope—not even close!  So the only free time in my schedule is between 3:00-5:30 in the morning!  And the discovery (again) of the greatness of God and His love for His most prized creation has been filling during times of emptiness and fulfilling in times of loneliness.  And that’s what I have learned:  I must be empty and alone to have communion with Him.  And I promise you that in my household, no one is up at this time of the morning!

You may think silence and solitude is a useless bit of information.  Not for me…I have learned that I need Him especially during that time.  I learned that I listen better then!  Well what do you know-that’s another piece of useful information!

Chuck Gaines, volunteer at The Next Door

Blog Post: Miracles

One Saturday per month, I have the pleasure of helping host Girls Night In, which is a fun time of the week for clients of The Next Door to enjoy. Let me start by saying that Miracles happen during every Girls’ Night In! That means God is at work, He is present, He is involved, and He is changing lives of the ladies at The Next Door. I’ll share the story of one sweet, tenderhearted miracle I witnessed recently.

During the devotion time of one Girls’ Night In, I met “Joanie” and “Megan.” Megan was an older woman, and it was obvious that she was full of wisdom. She is someone I’d love to sit down and have a cup of coffee with one day. Megan had a way of making people around her feel comfortable and loved. Joanie, on the other hand, was a younger lady who was curious and a little apprehensive. Joanie pulled me aside after the devotion and asked, “What happens after you die?” I sensed there was more to her question than just basic curiosity. Joanie was grieving. Her father died when she was only ten years old, and she had been struggling with that for many years. The entire time I was answering her question, Megan was right there nudging Jessica in a loving way saying, “See, see, I told you.” After we had finished talking, Joanie hugged me, and then tears of joy and smiles came.

I learned a bit later that Joanie and Megan were roommates. Joanie came to the Next Door not believing in the Lord. Miraculously, God arranged for Joanie and Megan to be roommates. Megan shared truth with Joanie, loved on Joanie, nurtured Joanie and mentored her too. Megan said to Joanie, “Before you leave the Next Door, you’re going to believe in the Lord.”

Guess what? Joanie now believes in the Lord! Every morning, the two roommates wake up and pray together, praise together, and they believe together! When a person changes from not believing in the Lord to relying on Him, seeking Him, and enjoying Him, it’s a miracle! And miracles happen at the Next Door. Joanie believes! Heaven is rejoicing!

I love the way the Lord orchestrated the events in the lives of two fearfully and wonderfully made ladies. God is at work at the Next Door. I believe that one day I’ll get to see Joanie and Megan again. I’ll see them in heaven, and we’ll be with our Savior and eternal family. And we’ll experience the fullness of joy!

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for helping Joanie to overcome her unbelief. Thank you for working a miracle!

~ Penny Baga, member of First Baptist Church of Goodlettsville, and monthly volunteer at TND’s Girls’ Night In

Blog Post: Mom Guilt

Hello! My name is Candise, and I am The Next Door’s grant writer. I’m blessed to be the mother of two beautiful little girls. Both are under the age of three. Prayers for patience and sleep are appreciated! After both of my daughters were born, many people asked me if I was going to continue to work full-time, and often, when I confirmed that that was my decision, the response was some kind of variation of “Oh, I bet you are going to miss those precious babies!” And IT would hit me.

Mom Guilt.

Yikes. I felt horrible for continuing to work; how can I leave those sweet girls with someone else for hours and hours when I should be the one caring for them?! I would have to remind myself of the discussions I had with my husband. I loved having my own career outside of being a mom; it was and is a part of my identity. I realized that I would feel ashamed about NOT working, too. Mom Guilt can be completely irrational.

While I’ve learned how to handle it better, I still deal with this on a regular basis. Any time I choose to do something for myself, no matter how small or beneficial, I feel a little twinge of unease. Go on a movie date with the hubs? Mom Guilt. Ask my mother-in-law to watch the kids for an hour so that I can work out? Mom Guilt. Take five more minutes of time in the bathroom to just breathe with my eldest screaming at the door? MOM GUILT.

How does this tie back to my job? Because I’m often holed up writing and researching, I don’t get many chances to interact with the women seeking substance abuse treatment at The Next Door. However, one thing I do know from my brief interactions with these ladies (usually on my way back and forth from the coffee machine) is that most are mothers or caretakers in some way. This isn’t surprising for a facility devoted to the care of women. However, with Mother’s Day coming up soon, it hit me that these women must be feeling massive waves of Mom Guilt.

I cannot imagine how much strength it would take to admit that I needed help, to focus entirely on MY disease of addiction, and to commit to take the time AWAY from my children to get the treatment I needed. Even though working toward recovery and getting mentally, physically, and spiritually healthier would be life-changing, getting over this mental barrier of guilt and shame would be overwhelming for me. But the women who are here at The Next Door do it ALL. THE. TIME. There are women here who are being successful at managing their substance addiction and conquering this internal struggle every day!

This year, for Mother’s Day, I’ve challenged myself to completely let go of my meaningless Mom Guilt and accept the idea that sometimes taking care of me IS taking care of my family, as well. And every time I get the urge to feel bad about it, I will send up a prayer for the women receiving life-saving substance abuse treatment at The Next Door, who are facing all sorts of challenges to live better lives for their families and for themselves.

Many Blessings and HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

 ~ Candise Hendricks, Grant Writer for The Next Door

Blog Post: Weather Changes

The first day of spring might have been March 20th, but that didn’t stop Mother Nature from unleashing some of the most interesting weather in Nashville this year. We had unbelievable amounts of rain, freezing temperatures, and to top it all – SNOW on April 16th!

How does this relate to Addiction Treatment?

The journey to sobriety is an unpredictable one… as is life! At The Next Door, we see rays of sunshine in the women we serve each day. We see them grasp a step in the 12 Steps. We see them become aware of who they are through an individual or group counseling session. But there are also days when it seems like a small cloud might be hanging around. We trust – we have to – that the cloud and its rain are providing much-needed refreshment for the seeds that have been planted. If the sun were to shine all the time, we would become parched and wish for rain. We first meet our clients when they are in the middle of their storm. Dolly Parton said it so well when she said, “Storms make trees take deeper roots.”

The women at The Next Door often wonder if it’s possible they will ever experience warmth from the sun again. We see after a week or even a few days the clouds begin to part. Then the real work begins.

In my 14 years at The Next Door, I’ve seen all kinds of weather. It is both the rain and sun and everything in between that keeps me coming back to see the rays of sunshine that will surely shine again soon.

~ Cindy Sneed, Chief Clinical Officer

Blog Post: Life-Changing Recovery

Several months into working at The Next Door, I was having a conversation with my mother and she brought something to my attention that I was floored with gratitude to realize.

She reminded me of the program she entered into over 10 years ago that had given her a safe place to transition into; an opportunity for true recovery. In 2006, my mother was released from the women’s prison and, upon leaving, was able to go straight from incarceration to a program that provided structure, routine, and accountability. Of most importance, this program offered a second chance at life. Not having to return to the streets or to the same environment (people, places and things) provided her the opportunity of a life with hope and a fresh start.

That program was The Next Door’s Re-Entry program. A program for women that was designed specifically to help women coming straight from incarceration to rebuild her life.

I didn’t realize that I was working at “THE Next Door,” because I didn’t recognize it to be what I had remembered. THIS new building? With all of these new services? That much growth and change since 2006! You see, my memories were of that building on 8th Avenue. I have many memories of arriving to pick up my mom for weekend or day passes, to go play softball at Centennial Park or to go have cookouts at the lake. Memories of my mother surrounded by all of her children for the first time. Having grown up separately from my siblings, this was a new experience for all of us to be together. It was joy in its purest form.

I hold on to and cherish those memories because during that time, for the first time in my life, I was building a healthy relationship with and experiencing my mother in true sobriety. SOBER. She had a light in her eyes, a freedom in her spirit, and a joy in her presence that was contagious.

The Next Door now offers treatment to women no matter her entry point. From detox to residential to outpatient services, we are here to help a woman at any point of her recovery journey. Understanding relapse as a part of the recovery journey for many, The Next Door offers a safe detox by providing medical monitoring during their acute withdrawal process. For continued care services after detox, we offer residential inpatient treatment and outpatient treatment services.

The impact of a woman becoming clean and sober can make a difference in the generational pattern that follows. This type of recovery IS life changing.

I’m so thankful for this organization, and to the women who prayed and listened to the call to build this ministry. Philippians 2:13 tells us “For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out his good purpose.” I am blessed to be able to be a part of this missional work and to be a part of a team of devoted professionals called according to this purpose.

~ April Barnes, Director of Admissions

Blog Post: Season of Renewal

Spring is such a beautiful season of renewal. You see it all around and in many forms – flowers starting to bloom, neighbors dusting off lawn mowers to give the yard its first cut of the season, and drive-through car washes with lines around the block. With more daylight now, I see entire families on long strolls testing out bicycles from Christmas.

We see renewal here, too, as women discover how to live a new life in recovery. Watching strong, courageous women overcome a new challenge each day and blossom during their time at The Next Door is humbling. Years of substance addiction have worn down so many women and families physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I see changes happen in the women who are here and it’s just like the awakening in my own neighborhood each spring. Like most staff, I’m occasionally blessed with a brief hallway conversation once or twice a week with one of our women. In every case, I walk back to my office convinced of two things – women are resilient and God is present here. So many obstacles and barriers, like a snow storm on the first day of spring, threaten sobriety, but these strong, amazing women keep pushing forward. Staff (and amazing volunteers) here know that faith and prayer, layered on top of the very best treatment, are like sunshine on rich soil. They can and do produce the most beautiful results.

Addiction treatment is available for every woman and at TND it’s given with a special mix of compassion and grace. We are grateful to be a place of hope and renewal not just during the spring but all day, every day.

~ Sallie Hussey, Chief Development Officer

Blog Post: Springtime Reflections

I love SPRINGTIME!

Every year when I spot the first little tiny crocus petals peeking up through the ground (or sometimes the snow!), quickly followed by the beautiful bright yellow daffodils sprinkled throughout my drive to and from work, I get so excited about Spring! I know that very soon I’ll also see the forsythia and redbud trees in bloom and the pear trees looking so glorious everywhere! Every March I always say, “Spring is my favorite time of the year!” I break out my sandals, put away my heavy sweaters, and happily move my winter coat from the back seat of my car to the inside closet.

But then, inevitably, the temperatures drop again, and I race to cut and bring in at least a few daffodils before the freeze kills them, I pull on my fur lined boots again, and feel like a cold wet blanket was thrown over my spring spirit.

Sometimes I feel like my relationship with God is a lot like the changing seasons. There are days when I recognize Him as the Light, in bright moments all throughout my day, and my heart and life feel like the “well-watered garden” in Isaiah 58:11:

The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden; like a spring whose waters never fail.

But on other days, my heart and soul feel like that cold wet blanket. I dwell on the disappointments, the problems, or my failures, rather than His provision and love. Whether one’s struggle is with substance addiction, mental illness, financial difficulty, broken relationships, loss of a loved one, or any other life issue that might knock us sideways, there are some days we are better than others at recognizing that God’s blessings are given according to His rich grace, not the depth of our faith or our performance!

We are also slow to recognize that the troubled times magnify our need for Him, and we can recognize that even “in the valley of the shadow…” HE is with us! He comforts us and gives peace that only He can.

I will move forward on this cold spring day by remembering and accepting His great love and grace with every beautiful bloom I see. I will trust His timing for every blessing, and lean in closer to Him, not trying to live only for the next bright spot, but taking in the harder times and growing in them. I will be still long enough to get a glimpse of His “big picture.”

(I’ll also put on my big fuzzy socks again before climbing into bed tonight!)

~ Ginger Gaines, Chief Operating Officer for The Next Door

Blog Post: Light Bulb Moments at The Next Door

One of my favorite things about working at The Next Door is hearing about or observing numerous “light bulb” moments that take place in a given day. They come from many different people who make up TND’s community (clients, family members, guests, current supporters) and happen in various settings.

Here are a few examples:

  • At the front desk of The Next Door, there is always a basket of encouraging scripture verses on slips of paper for clients to pick up as they pass by. I love it when the light bulb turns on and I hear clients say, “Ooh, that is just what I needed to read today!”
  • When donors or other visitors come for a tour of The Next Door, typically several of them will have a light bulb moment when they learn the full history of the organization and scope of its services. Often, I hear this remark: “I had no idea The Next Door did so much!”
  • At our annual Benefit Luncheon, after hearing a previous client share her story on stage, many donors reveal to me that they have that light bulb moment when they realize the women receiving care at The Next Door could be their daughter, sister, or friend, and how close to home addiction could be.
  • During a weekly group session facilitated by our amazing team of therapists on the topic of healthy relationships, many clients have the light bulb come on when they are able to identify an unhealthy pattern from past relationship choices, and how it’s led them down a destructive or dangerous path.
  • At evening family sessions or weekend visitation, many parents, family members, or spouses/significant others of The Next Door clients often see that light bulb come on when they learn that addiction is a disease and not just a poor choice on the part of their loved one.
  • Many mornings, after clients have had their morning devotional time, it is not uncommon to hear about that light bulb turning on when women say to staff, “Did you read Jesus Calling today? I swear – it was written just for me!”

Lord, thank you for the LIGHTBULB moments of awakening and new insights you are making possible through The Next Door’s ministry. We praise your name that change is possible when you speak to us and our hearts are open to what you have to teach us.

~ Kate McKinnie, Development and Events Manager